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Gerken, Ray, Willits Place At NCAA Super Regionals

06 Mar 2017

by Tim Flynn - CSM GOLDEN, Colo.Jacob Gerken finished as the 149-pound runner-up and Justin Ray wrestled back to a fifth-place spot to lead Colorado School of Mines at the 2017 NCAA Division II West Super Regional Championships, hosted at Steinhauer Fieldhouse.
Keenan Willits claimed sixth place as well as the Orediggers finished tenth in the team rankings with 37 points. Cal Baptist won the team title with 125 points.
Gerken, who advanced to the finals from Friday, suffered an 8-2 loss to Nebraska-Kearney's #10 Keith Surber in the final. Tied 0-0 going into the second, Surber added a pair of near falls to make the difference. Regardless of the result, Gerken will head to NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala. on March 10-11.
Ray faced a tough consolation semifinal at 141 pounds against #7 Daniel Salazar of Colorado Mesa, with Salazar coming back from an early Ray takedown to win 9-3. That sent Ray to the fifth-place match, where he used a late tilt to beat CSU-Pueblo's Jared Mestas 10-5 to secure fifth.
At 165, Keenan Willits fell 6-4 to Jason Buhr of Colorado Mesa in the morning's consolation semifinal. Buhr went up 6-2 before Willits scored a late takedown, but ran out of time looking for a comeback. In the fifth-place match, Willits went up against Tyler Mann of Ouachita Baptist, and a late takedown by Mann gave him a 5-4 win. Jacob Gerken punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships, wrestling into Saturday's final to highlight day 1 for Colorado School of Mines at the 2017 NCAA Division II West Super Regional Championships.

With the top four in each weight class going to nationals, Gerken assured himself of no worse than a runner-up finish when he faces Nebraska-Kearney's Keith Surber Saturday in the 1 p.m. session.
Gerken used a huge third period in his semifinal match with Western State's Ian Steen. Tied 3-3, Gerken scored a takedown and nearfall-4 to take a 9-5 victory. That came after Gerken cruised through his first-round match with a 1:38 fall over San Francisco State's Dylan Furtado, and a riding-time win over Newman's Tyler Mies, 7-6, in the quarterfinals.
It was a good first day overall for Mines as seven of their nine entrants wrestled their way into the evening session and Justin Ray and Keenan Willits will wrestle for placing on Saturday morning. Through the first day, Mines is tied with Chadron State for eighth with 35 team points; CSU-Pueblo leads with 98.
At 125 pounds, Matt Lavengood battled through a first-period injury but was pinned by New Mexico Highlands' Jacob Espana in the first round, but Lavengood bounced back to win an entertaining 9-5 decision over Colorado Mesa's Tommy Tawata in the consolation first round. Lavengood then faced SFSU's Matt Gamble and leading 2-0 in the first, stuck Gamble on a rollover to earn a 2:22 fall. His meet came to an end in the consolation quarters with a second-period pin by CSU-Pueblo's Josiah Seeton.
At 133, Noah Au-Yeung fell to Adams State's Martin Ramirez in the first round in a tech fall, but bounced back with a dramatic 6-5 win over Fort Hays' Wyatt Alvis in the consolation first round. Trailing 5-3, Au-Yeung was not awarded a takedown at the buzzer, but a video review game him the two and riding time to win. Au-Yeung then won 5-2 against Cruz Velasquez of Simon Fraser in the consolation second round, but ended his tournament with a fall to UCO's Blake Dauphin.
Justin Ray is alive into Saturday at 141 pounds, wrestling back to Saturday's consolation semifinals. Ray received a bye into the quarterfinals and wrestled one of the best matches of the day against Central Oklahoma's Joshua Ailey. Ray was leading in the third period but was taken down by Ailey, and was stuck trying to roll out for an escape at 6:37. Ray responded with an 11-4 win over Oklahoma Baptist's Harrison Bamman in the consolation second round, and scored an 11-1 major over UNK's Jacob Wasser in the consolation quarters.
Ethan Ruby won his opener at 157, 5-2 against Greg Gaxiola of Cal Baptist, but dropped his quarterfinal 11-4 to #2 Greg Tooley of Fort Hays State, the top seed. He then dominated Trevor Perez of SFSU 7-2 in the consolation second round, but lost a tight 6-4 decision to CSU-Pueblo's Kyle Fantin in the consolation quarters.
At 165, Keenan Willits had a tough draw starting against #2 Calvin Ochs of Nebraska Kearney, but battled in an 11-6 loss. That sent him to consolations where he came back to win 10-7 against Dakota Head of Central Oklahoma. In his consolation second round bout, Willits was ahead before pinning Adams State's Isaac Lopez in the second period, and he won his consolation quarter with a 9-5 decision over Kellen Petzel of Highlands. That sets him up for Saturday's consolation semifinals.
Robert Gambrell fell in his opener, 9-6 to Reid Watkins of SFSU, but bounced back to edge Koery Windham of Adams State 3-2 in the consolation first round. He then won 9-8 over UNK's Isaac Deaton before falling out of the bracket with a 19-8 loss to CSU-Pueblo's Kyle Bateman.
Ben Krantz was Mines' 184 entrant and suffered a 13-1 loss in the first round, then received a consolation first round bye. Krantz's tournament ended at the hands of Western State's Konnor Schmidt, 8-1.
At 197 pounds, Brandon Saunders suffered an 0-2 day. Saunders lost by tech fall in the first round to Morgan Smith of Simon Fraser, then suffered a 6-5 loss to Highlands' Chris Collins in a terrific match that saw Collins use a late reversal to win.