Men's Wrestling - Sat, Mar. 7, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Four Menlo College wrestlers closed out their seasons on a winning note and one other joined them as an All-American as the Oaks were presented with the Team Sportsmanship Award at the NAIA National Championships at Oklahoma City University's Abe Lemons Arena on Saturday.
Seniors Robert Davis (165) and Jesse Ruiz (HWT) each captured third place while Jose Hernandez (125) took fifth with career-ending victories. Each of the three was named an NAIA All-American for the second straight season by finishing in the top six of their class. Davis and Ruiz each won a national title last season, but had to fight through the wrestleback bracket for glory this time around.
Senior heavyweight Nick Berry was named a Daktronic-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, the NAIA equivalent of an Academic All-American. Berry has a 3.63 cumulative GPA and only juniors and seniors with a GPA 3.5 or higher are eligible for the award.
Unseeded freshman Christian Martinez (141) may have been the Oaks biggest surprise, finishing in seventh place to earn NAIA Honorable Mention All-American status - the first Menlo freshman to earn such an accolade. Martinez defeated fourth-seeded Jason Costello of Great Falls by a 9-7 decision in his final match.
"Winning the Team Sportsmanship Award is a huge accomplishment," Menlo Head Coach Keith Spataro said of receiving the honor voted on by coaches and officials. "I'm very proud of our team; Robbie and Jesse fighting back for third showed great character and resolve."
Ruiz, who has battled injuries for much of the season, had the longest road through the wrestleback bracket and had to win three times on Saturday alone to grab third place. The senior pinned top-seeded Travis Ewart of Missouri Valley and second-seeded Corey Johnson of Oklahoma City - who defeated Ruiz on Thursday - before closing out his career with a 7-5 decision over McKendree's Dan Moore.
Top-seeded Davis defeated fellow No. 1 seed Stanton Schlecht of Dickinson State 5-2 in the wrestleback semis before delivering a statement victory in his final college match with a 8-3 decision over third-seeded Lamar Reed of California Baptist. Reed knocked of Davis earlier in the season, but couldn't beat the Oaks star when it counted most.
Hernandez lost to fourth-seeded Tyler Savage of Notre Dame by a 2-0 decision only to win a 4-1 decision over third-seeded John Erickson of King for fifth place. Hernandez defeated Erickson in Friday's championship quarterfinals as well.
Menlo's 10th-place finish in the team standings was the Oaks sixth top 10 finish in the program's eight seasons in existence. Lindenwood ran away with the team title, beating out Southern Oregon, McKendree, and Missouri Valley, in that order.
Menlo College Results - Saturday
#4 Jose Hernandez wins 5th place
L, #4 Tyler Savage (Notre Dame) dec., 2-0 in WB semifinals
W, dec. #3 John Erickson (King), 4-1 for 5th place
Christian Martinez wins 7th place
L, Shad Rissler (King) dec., 4-0 in WB quarterfinals
W, dec. #4 Jason Costello (Great Falls), 9-7 for 7th place
#1 Robert Davis wins 3rd place
W, dec. #1 Stanton Schlecht (Dickinson State), 5-2 in WB semifinals
W, dec. #3 Lamar Reed (Cal Baptist), 8-3 for 3rd place
#3 Jesse Ruiz wins 3rd place
W, pin #1 Travis Ewart (Missouri Valley), 3:56 in WB quarterfinals
W, pin #2 Corey Johnson (Oklahoma City), 2:46 in WB semifinals
W, dec. Dan Moore (McKendree), 7-5 for 3rd place