Army Travels To Rutgers For EIWA Championships

Paul Hancock

Paul Hancock

March 6, 2013

WEST POINT, N.Y. - After dropping a 22-10 decision to Navy in its regular-season finale, the Army wrestling team begins its postseason slate this weekend (March 8-9) when the Black Knights travel to Piscataway, N.J., to compete at the 109th Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships.

The prestigious tournament will be contested inside Rutgers Athletic Center on the campus of Rutgers University. The competition will begin on Friday at 11 a.m., with semifinals and wrestle-backs set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday's action is slated to get under way at 10 a.m., with finals set for 3 p.m.

Tickets for the EIWA Championships are available for purchase via the Rutgers University ticket office. Tickets are on sale for $22 per session ($25 for the finals) or $70 for the entire tournament. Student tickets can be purchased for $12 per session ($14 for the finals). Orders can be made online or by calling the ticket office at 1-866-445-GORU (4678).

Fans that are unable to attend this weekend's event will be able to follow all of the action via live stats (http://www.scarletknights.com/wrestling/eiwa.asp) and Twitter updates (@2013EIWARutgers). The official Twitter handle of Army wrestling (Army_Wrestling) will also be updated throughout the weekend.

Army (7-7, 3-3 EIWA) is searching for its first EIWA team title since winning its lone conference championship in 1987. The Black Knights have not finished within the top five since placing third in 2008. Army will also be looking to crown an individual champion for the first time since Matthew Kyler won the 149-pound title in 2010.

Four Army wrestlers who have placed within the top six at previous EIWA Championships return to this year's tournament. Senior Collin Wittmeyer placed fifth at 184 pounds in 2010, senior Jordan Thome took fourth at 133 pounds in 2011, senior Daniel Young finished sixth at 149 pounds in 2011 and sophomore Cole Gracey was third at 165 pounds last season.

Wittmeyer, who has wrestled recently at heavyweight, carries an 18-15 record into this weekend's action. He ranks second on the team with six major decisions and tied for third with nine bonus-point victories.

Thome, who shows a 20-15 mark, leads the Black Knights with nine pins. The fourth-year performer, who has authored three straight 20-win seasons, will be looking to qualify for the NCAAs for a third consecutive year. Thome lists fifth at 133 pounds in the latest EIWA rankings.

Young, who missed approximately six weeks earlier this season due to injury, marked his return to the lineup by posting a major decision versus Navy. The 149-pounder is 14-11 on the year, with seven of his wins earning bonus points. Young, who is ranked 19th nationally by Intermat, is listed third in the latest EIWA rankings.

Gracey, who was named the 2012 EIWA Freshman of the Year at last season's championships, will look to improve upon his third-place effort. The second-year grappler missed the entire first half of the season, but shows a 14-8 record with five pins since returning to the lineup at 174 pounds.

Junior 165-pounder Paul Hancock, who leads Army with a 28-9 record, will appear in the EIWA Championships for the first time in his career. The third-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds in the conference, Hancock leads the Black Knights with nine major decisions and 13 bonus-point victories this season.

Senior Connor Hanafee, who has won three straight bouts since returning from injury, brings an 18-11 record into his final EIWA Championships. He is ranked fifth at 141 pounds in the conference rankings.

Freshman 197-pounder Bryce Barnes, who ranks second on the team with 22 wins and 10 bonus-point victories, will look to make a mark in his first-ever conference tournament. He is ranked fifth in the EIWA in the latest rankings.

Sophomore Hunter Wood (125 pounds), John Belanger (157) and Ryan Tompkins (184) figure to round out Army's lineup this weekend. Wood is 11-23 on the season, Belanger is 12-8 and Tompkins shows a 13-12 mark.

Cornell aims for its seventh consecutive EIWA title this weekend. The Big Red edged Lehigh by just 2.5 points to win last season's championship. Those two perennial powers will be joined this weekend by American, Army, Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Franklin & Marshall, Harvard, Navy, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Rutgers and Sacred Heart.

Following this weekend's tournament, the Army wrestling team will conclude its 2012-13 campaign at the NCAA Championships, which will be held March 21-23 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.

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