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|Sigman Leads UNO to Third Consecutive NCAA Title; Nebraska-Kearney Takes Runner-Up Honors|
By Brian Zins Mankato State
Findlay, Ohio --- The University of Nebraska-Omaha rode the wave of three individual champions to their third consecutive national team title and fourth in the storied 27-year career of head coach Mike Denney. The Mavs racked up 117 team points to outdistance second-place Nebraska-Kearney by 18.5 points.
Those two Nebraska schools schools combined for half of the national champions crowned in the final session. Nebraska-Omaha locked up the title early in the evening when freshman Cody Garcia earned a 5-1 win over Jamie Thomas of Shippensburg. Teammates J.D. Naig and Les Sigman added titles at 174 and heavyweight, respectively. For the Lopers, Brett Allgood secured a perfect season and a national title at 133 while Tanner Linsacum earned the other championship at 184 pounds.
With his fourth individual title, Sigman becomes just the fourth wrestler in NCAA Division II to accomplish the feat. He joins Cole Province of Central Oklahoma (2001-04), Dan Russell of Portland State (1988-91) and Tim Wright of Southern Illinois Edwardsville (1984-87) with the 1-0 win. That may have been the closest match he had in the tournament, but the unassuming leader of the Mavericks had been there three times before.
"I was a lot more relaxed this time," he said of his fourth national championship match. "I've wrestled him six or eight times before so I had a lot of confidence but also a lot of pressure. I think the pressure helped me focus."
As per his demeanor, Sigman was quick to deflect attention back to the team effort.
"Everyone going home with a smile on their face is the best reward. I have tried to be a good leader and I hope some of that transferred to the other guys on the team."
Coach Denney was more than willing to heap praise upon his record-setting big man.
"All the great leaders pass it on and he has definitely done that," said Denney. "He has humility, a quiet strong leadership style. This team has a lot of leaders now and he is a big part of that. This group went undefeated, wire-to-wire, in duals, national duals and qualified 10 guys which is hard to do. They are a special bunch."
In assessing the field below him, Denney was quick to recognize the tremendous strides made by Nebraska-Kearney. Former UNO standout Marc Bauer was at the helm of the national runner-up Lopers.
"They struggled early but Marc had them peaking at the right time. I told him that this was by far their best performance of the year."
At 141 pounds, Thad Benton of Pittsburgh-Johnstown defended his 2005 title with a 4-2 win. Hometown favorite Antonio Guerra of Findlay followed that up with a title of his own at 149, getting an escape in the final period to win 5-4. The fans were treated to a wild affair at 157 as Brad Becker of Wisconsin-Parkside, down 5-0, pinned David Nordhues of Fort Hayes State with just 31 seconds left in the match. Junior Nate Baker of MSU Moorhead took home the crown at 165 with a 10-5 decision. Plamen Paskalev finished an undefeated season at 197 with a 5-3 win over returning champ Corey Jacoby of Shippensburg.
Rounding out the top-five in the team race was Shippensburg in third with 66.5, Central Oklahoma with 64.5 and Minnesota State with 63.5.
125 Pounds - #5 Jamie Thomas (SHIP) vs. #2 Cody Garcia (UNO)
At 125 pounds, freshman Cody Garcia of Nebraska-Omaha controlled the title bout from beginning to end, winning in impressive fashion 5-1 over Jamie Thomas of Shippensburg. Garcia scored a takedown on the edge of the mat in the first period and used a tilt in the third for two back points. A riding time advantage of 2:50 gave him an extra point at the conclusion of the match. Garcia finishes his inaugural campaign with a record of 39-3.
133 Pounds - #1 Brett Allgood (UNK) vs. #2 Andy Uhl (UF)
Allgood set the pace early in the 133-pound title bout and held off a late charge by defending champion Uhl to cap an undefeated season with a 9-7 win. Allgood picked up two takedowns in the first period and another following an escape in the second. Uhl snatched a takedown late in the final session to pull to within two and used the remaining time in the match to try to turn Allgood by was unable to do so.
141 Pounds - #1 Thad Benton (UPJ) vs. #4 Kyle Evans (UCO)
Benton yielded the opening takedown to Evans but scored a reversal and two near fall points to win his second straight title by a score of 4-2. The third period yielded much action but no scoring as Benton held on for the win. He concludes his senior season with a record of 41-5.
149 Pounds - #6 Shane Unger (UNO) vs. #3 Antonio Guerra (UF)
The hometown favorite Guerra gained an escape in the third period to nip Unger by a score of 5-4. Guerra scored the opening takedown of the match but was penalized a point soon thereafter for clasping. Unger knotted the score with an escape to open the second but Guerra countered with another takedown. A late reversal by Unger sent the match into the final session tied at four until Guerra slipped loose for the win. Guerra finishes 27-6 on the season.
157 Pounds - #5 Brad Becker (UWP) vs. #2 David Nordhues (FHSU)
Becker found himself down 5-0 after two periods of his title match with Nordhues but turned a takedown into a cradle and pinned his way to the national championship at ??. Nordhues built a lead with a takedown in the first and added an escape and takedown in the second. Becker chose the neutral position to open the third and took Nordhues to the mat and immediately locked up the cradle. It took over 30 seconds for him to tip Nordhues but mere moments to make it stick. Becker finishes with a mark of 39-6.
165 Pounds - #1 Zach Schafer (MC) vs. #4 Nate Baker (MSUM)
In perhaps the night's wildest match, Baker scored five points in the final session to win 10-5. Baker score the opening takedown in the first period but Schafer evened the score with a reversal. In the second, Schafer turned Baker for three near fall points before being reversed himself. Schafer's choice of neutral in the final period paid off for Baker as he took the lead for good with a takedown and three-point near fall.
174 Pounds - #7 Michael Jackson (INDY) vs. #1 J.D. Naig (UNO)
Jackson took an early lead with a takedown of Naig in the first but the defending champ took over from there, racking up a lead before pinning Jackson with seven seconds remaining in the match. Naig tallied four points in the first and third periods before turning Jackson for good as time wound down. It was the second fall of the weekend for Naig and brings his season record to 32-3.
184 Pounds - #3 Mike Corcetti (UPJ) vs. #5 Tanner Linsacum (UNK)
Linsacum built a 4-2 lead with two takedowns in the first period and padded the lead in the third en route to a 10-7 win. Corcetti scored his first takedown in the second off a Linsacum escape but allowed him free to end the period. Linsacum tallied two more takedowns in the final session and released Corcetti and held on for the win from the neutral position. Linsacum concludes his career with a record of 30-2.
197 Pounds - #4 Corey Jacoby (SHIP) vs. #2 Plamen Paskalev (CMSU)
Plaskalev stayed perfect on the year with a 5-3 win, using just two takedowns in the first period and riding time to do so. Neither wrestler garnered a point in the second period but Jacoby pulled to within one with an escape just as Paskalev gained the riding time advantage. Paskalev finishes the season with an 18-0 record.
285 Pounds - #3 Tervel Dlagnev (UNK) vs. #1 Les Sigman (UNO)
A release by Dlagnev provided the only points of the match as Sigman became just the fourth wrestler in the history of NCAA Division II wrestling to earn four individual titles. The first two periods were a defensive battle, all spent in the neutral position. Dlagnev used an optional start to begin the third in the hope of getting the winning takedown but Sigman would not allow it. It also kept alive Sigman's amazing feat of not allowing an offensive point in four national championships. He concludes his career with a perfect senior ledger 23-0.