University of Findlay senior Ben Sergent is an NCAA wrestling champion.
Sergent scored a 5-point move midway through the first period to knock off Augustana’s T.J. North 9-4 at the NCAA Division II national wrestling championships at Cleveland’s Public Hall Saturday night.
Later in the night, UF’s Adam Walters went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame College’s Joey Davis before falling 4-1 in the 174-pound championship match.
Sergent, a fourth-place finisher in the NCAA tournament last season and the school’s eighth NCAA wrestling champ, hit a barrel roll for a takedown and drove North to his back with 44 seconds remaining in the first period for a 5-0 lead in their 125-pound title bout.
North closed the gap to 5-2 with a pair of escapes before Sergent added an escape of his own to start the third period to make it 6-2.
North finally recorded a takedown with 1:24 remaining in the match to close the gap to 6-4. But an escape for Sergent and a final takedown from the Troy Christian product sealed the school’s eighth NCAA individual wrestling championship and closed out his UF career with a record of 108-44.
Sergent (25-6) had to put together a last-second rally in the semifinals against Gannon’s Matthew Turek just to advance to the title bout.
After a scoreless first period, Sergent scored an escape just six seconds into the second period for a 1-0 lead.
But Turek, who beat Sergent 10-8 in the first round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, rebounded and scored 2-point takedowns in both the second and third periods for a 4-3 lead.
Sergent, though, shot in and scored a takedown on the edge of the mat as time expired.
The referees reviewed the final seconds of the match on video and the match-winning takedown stood, giving Sergent a 5-4 win and a berth in the championship match.
Walters, too, won in heartstopping fashion in the semifinals.
Walters, a senior and three-time All-American, used an escape and takedown to build a 3-1 lead through two periods before Western State’s Eric Copeland recorded an escape and takedown of his own for a 4-3 lead. Walters tied it with an escape with 1:08 left before clinching the match with a takedown of his own with just 13 seconds remaining for a 6-5 win.
The 174-pound championship was perhaps the marquee matchup of the tournament. Walters, the No. 2-ranked wrestler in country, faced Davis, ranked No. 1 with a 71-match win streak.
Both wrestlers went to the center of the mat and stood at their positions, staring at one another, ready to wrestle even before the officials walked onto the mat.
The two battled for position during the first period, which ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
Walters, who was also an NCAA runner-up in 2012, was able to score on an escape in the second period after Davis accumulated 1:02 of riding time.
Davis escaped quickly at the start of the third period to tie the match at 1-1.
Finally, Davis broke through, shooting in for a single-leg takedown. He switched off to a double leg and took Walters to the mat with a match-clinching takedown with 42 seconds remaining on his way to a 4-1 win.
The Roughnecks finished 13th in the 42-team field with 351/2 points.
Notre Dame College won the tournament with a 991/2-601/2 margin over runner-up Nebraska-Kearney.
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