The Eastern Michigan wrestling team placed eighth in the Mid-American Conference Championship and will tie a school record by sending four Eagles to the NCAA Championships in New York over the weekend at the Convocation Center.
Dakota Juarez Shocks the Competition with a Finals Run
Coming into the MAC Championships, redshirt freshman Dakota Juarez wasn’t expected to compete on a high a level at the 165 lb level. Juarez was listed as a six seed heading into the tournament.
Juarez’s first match was against the number three seeded Austin Reese of Ohio University where he used the clock to avoid some late takedowns as he won in a 3-2 decision. This would send him to face off against the number nine ranked wrestler in the country.
“We’re really happy with what he did this weekend, beat a top ten kid in the semi’s. I think the whole weekend he was having fun and not putting to much pressure on himself,” Eastern Michigan coach David Bolyard said.
His next match was against Cooper Moore of Northern Iowa where Juarez was seen as an underdog to the number two seeded Moore. Juarez upset Moore and won in a 4-3 decision that gave him a bid to the NCAA tournament at the 165 weight class.
Following this upset, Juarez went on to the finals to face off against the number four ranked wrestler Daniel Lewis of the University of Missouri. Lewis defeated Juarez in an 8-3 decision, but it was how Juarez worked to get to that point in the tournament that impressed.
Four Eagles are selected for NCAA Championships
Along with Juarez, redshirt senior Anthony Abro, redshirt junior Nicholas Barber and redshirt sophomore Gage Hutchinson all managed to receive NCAA tournament bids for the tournament in New York.
Abro placed fourth at the MAC championships where he knocked off the number 19 ranked wrestler Shawn Scott of Northern Illinois University in the first round, and lost in the second that sent him to the consolation round. Abro pulled together a late comeback in his consolation match when he performed a late takedown with a second left that gave him his bid to the tournament. Abro would fall in the third place match in a rematch against Scott to place fourth in the championships.
“The MAC championship is about getting guy’s to Nationals and we are sending three guy’s automatically to them and the most we have ever sent is four,” Bolyard said.
Barber fell in the first round of the tournament and was sent to the quarter-final of the consolation bracket where he dominated the competition. A win in the semi-final against the number 12 ranked wrestler in the country and would compete for 3rd place. An injury forfeit before the consolation finals put Barber on the podium as he won the bronze at the MAC championships.
“We have a few guys who are close to getting wild card bids, it just depends on how things play off across the country,” Bolyard said.
Hutchinson was headed into the championships with high expectations as he was given the number two seed. He dropped the first match and was sent to the consolation bracket. He rebounded in the quarter-final in a 4-1 decision and 3-2 decision in the semi-final. He was pinned in the consolation final and originally did not get an NCAA bid; but on Tuesday, the NCAA awarded him a bid to head to New York.
The NCAA tournament will be held in Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 17-19.
Shayne Wireman Suffers Concussion After an Upset
Junior Shayne Wireman gave Eastern their first win of the day as he upset the number two seed in the weight class of 133 when he was the seven seed. Wireman looked like he was going to make a run into the finals for Eastern.
“It just stinks with Shayne because he beat the number two seed and was in a great position to get a national bid and then suffers a concussion in the semi’s,” Bolyard said. “ Shayne’s good, it was his third one this year so it’s been rough for him.”
In the semi-finals of the tournament Wireman fell in the first period and landed on his head. He appeared to have suffered a neck injury and had to be stretchered out of the arena. It was confirmed that he had a concussion.
Anthony Abro Competes for the Last Time at the Convocation Center
For one Eastern Michigan wrestler, the MAC championship was more important than any competitions he had competed in before. Redshirt senior Anthony Abro walked out to wrestle in the Convocation Center for the last time.
“(Anthony)’s been huge for us. Anthony is a kid who is not terribly talented and everything that he’s gotten out of this, he’s earned,” Bolyard said. “To have a kid with that work ethic, its special and those are the guy’s that you want.”
Abro, ranked number 20 in the country, came out and placed fourth in the MAC championships and the hard-working, leader for the Eagles was all smiles at the award ceremony.