Herzog punches ticket to nationals

Photo courtesy of Kayla Ebner

Dillon Stambaugh

Herald Contributor

BRISTOL, R.I. — Senior captain Ty Herzog finished third place in the 157 pound weight class at the Division III Northeast Regional Championship this past weekend, earning a trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin for the 2017 N.C.A.A. Division III National Championship. This will be Herzog’s third consecutive trip to nationals.

The regional tournament, a national qualifier featuring 19 teams from Upstate New York and New England, was held Feb. 25­-26 at Roger Williams University. The top three finishers in each weight class advance to the national championship.

“This will be Ty’s third time qualifying for the NCAA tournament,” said head coach Jon Egan. “He is yet to be an All-American and hopefully is saving his best for last. Ty is incredible. Everything he does he pours his heart into. We are constantly telling our guys to score more points, work harder than your competition, and demand perfection from yourself. Ty has gone above and beyond and already cemented himself as an RWU all-time great.

“He has already broken the school record for career takedowns with 511 surpassing Pete Doucet [in 2000]. It has been an honor to coach such an incredible young man who achieves on the mat and in the classroom. Ty Herzog and teammate Kyle Foster will be RWU’s first two four-time Academic All-Americans. I am so excited to see what the next two weeks holds for Ty and then the rest of his life.”

The 157 pound bracket in which Herzog competed was the most competitive of all 10 weights, featuring three of the top five wrestlers in the country: Cortland’s Bobby Dierna (1), Springfield’s Zac Joseph (2) and Coast Guard’s Christopher Sullivan (5).

The senior, seeded fourth, won his first match of the day handedly, defeating Plymouth’s Nick Simeti by major decision, 19-8. To reach the quarterfinals, Herzog defeated Williams’ Gabriel Corrochano by decision, 7-1. He then set a program record for takedowns in his next bout, eclipsing the mark of 510 career takedowns en route to a 11-5 decision over Southern Maine’s C.J. Luth.

In the semifinals, the new takedown record holder then ran into a buzzsaw in Dierna, last year’s national champion. Herzog lost the bout by major decision, 18-8, but was the only wrestler in the tournament to survive a full seven-minute match with Dierna. Dropping down to the consolation bracket, Herzog defeated Johnson and Wales’ Dan McBrinn with another major decision, 14-4.

With the win over McBrinn, Herzog earned a chance to compete for bronze versus familiar foe Sullivan. The two wrestled a handful of times this season, both winning at least one match. It has quietly become one of the better rivalries in New England. With a trip to nationals on the line, Herzog tallied his fourth major decision of the weekend, defeating Sullivan 15-4.

The senior will be RWU’s only representative at nationals this year. In his previous two trips, he has not achieved All-American status. This will be his last chance.

RWU saw five other wrestlers place in the region. Freshman Jason Jacobi (133), senior Alec Golner (165) and senior Kyle Foster (285) all placed fourth. Freshman Tyler Gazaway (149) placed fifth, and junior Nick Barbaria (125) finished sixth.

Roger Williams finished in fourth place in the team standings with 95 points. Cross-town rival JWU finished first with a commanding 171.5 points.

While the team’s competitive season is over and Herzog remains the lone wrestler to take the mat at nationals, coach Egan said he’s proud of his guys and what they accomplished this year.

“The season was great,” Herzog said. “We had a number of records broken and tournament wins. We had a record of 21-2 and are proud of every guy on this team and their constant battle for perfection. We had an incredible group of seniors who led by example, and I don’t think it will be easy to ever replace them.”

The national championship will be held March 10-11 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse will host the tournament.