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UNC Bears Wrestlers Continue to Make History

06 Mar 2017

Nick Alspaugh, UNCBears.com

TULSA, Okla. – The historic year for Head Coach Troy Nickerson and Northern Colorado wrestling rolls on, as the Bears qualified four wrestlers for the NCAA Tournament this weekend at the Big 12 Wrestling Championships.
This will be the most wrestlers Northern Colorado has ever qualified in a season for the NCAA Tournament since the 2007 season, when they qualified five.
Northern Colorado will be sending [133] Rico Montoya, [141] Timmy Box, [165] Keilan Torres, and [184] Dylan Gabel to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri in two weeks.
In addition, the Bears also placed four wrestlers at the Big 12 Championships this weekend, which set a new program record.
The Bears four NCAA Tournament Qualifiers was tied for the fourth most in the entire Big 12 Conference. Northern Colorado, Wyoming, and North Dakota State all qualified four wrestlers, while Oklahoma qualified seven, and Oklahoma State will send all 10 starters.
Dylan Gabel became the first wrestler in Northern Colorado history to reach the Big 12 finals at any weight for the Bears.
Dylan Gabel placed 2nd at 184 lbs., after a tough 15-4 loss against No.1 seed and No. 4 ranked Nolan Boyd (Oklahoma State).
With the second place finish, Gabel becomes the highest placer in Northern Colorado history in the Big 12 Conference.
In reaching the finals, Gabel automatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament. 

How it Happened:
It was a busy morning for Northern Colorado, with the consolation semifinals starting at 8 AM (CT).  Northern Colorado swept the consolation semifinals, sending all three Bears to the consolation finals. Rico Montoya started things off for the Bears, with a rematch against conference rival and returning All-American No. 12 Earl Hall (Iowa State). Montoya had a career record of 0-3 against Hall, previously losing to Hall twice this year already. In what was a back and forth battle, Montoya found himself losing 6-5 with under a minute left in the match. With a beautiful high-crotch to a knee-slide double leg, Montoya took down Hall and proceeded to ride him out for the win.
Not only did Montoya beat Hall for the first time in his career, but he also qualified for his first NCAA Tournament. In the 3/4th place match, Montoya lost again to Cam Sykora (North Dakota State). Montoya placed 4th at 133 lbs. 

Timmy Box wrestled against No. 7 seed Joe Wheeling (West Virginia) in his consolation semifinals match. Box destroyed Wheeling by a score of 13-1 and punched his ticket to St. Louis and the NCAA Tournament. In the 3/4th place match Box fell to No. 3 seed and No. 22 ranked Mike Longo (Oklahoma) for the second time this season, and placed 4th at 141 lbs.

Keilan Torres arguably has been the most entertaining wrester to watch this season, and this trend continued this weekend in his home state of Oklahoma. Torres upended three top 20 ranked opponents en route to his 3rd place finish at 165 lbs. After a thrilling overtime victory yesterday against No. 5 seed and No. 14 ranked Yoanse Meijas (Oklahoma), Torres faced No. 6 seed and No. 20 ranked Andrew Foggarty (North Dakota State). Torres was trailing 8-3 heading into the third period, and pulled off an unbelievable come from behind victory to win 9-8. Torres started on bottom in the third period, and escaped to bring the score to 8-4. After a takedown, Torres was losing 8-6 with less than 30 seconds left in the match. With Torres working relentlessly on top, Foggarty got dinged with his second stall warning resulting in a point for Torres. With Foggarty still leading 8-7 with :05 seconds left, Torres pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a quick tilt on Foggarty, and won with a buzzer beater turn 9-8. In the consolation finals, Torres squared off against No. 6 seed and No. 18 ranked Luke Zilverberg (South Dakota State). Torres had previously lost to Zilverberg in overtime 3-1 earlier in the year. Riding momentum from his earlier wins, Torres wasted no time in avenging the loss to Zilverberg in January, by throwing and pinning the ranked conference foe in 1:55. Keilan Torres placed 3rd at 165 lbs.
Here is a list of the new accomplishments and records this year's team set at the Big 12's this weekend:
New Program Records
*4 NCAA Tournament qualifiers
*4 Big 12 Championships placers:
  [133] Rico Montoya – 4th
  [141] Timmy Box – 4th
  [165] Keilan Torres – 3rd 
  [184] Dylan Gabel – 2nd 
*First Big 12 Finalist: [184] Dylan Gabel
*Most team points at Big 12 Championships: 48. 5
*Highest team finish at Big 12 Championships: 8th 
In Their Own Words
"It is a great day to be a Bear. We had a great first session this morning, which helped solidify the most placers in Big 12 history for Northern Colorado. I am really proud of the team, and their ability to come together as a group. We have two weeks to prepare for the National Tournament. With this being said, we will rest up and begin to get ready to continue making some noise in March."