DUBUQUE, Iowa - Plymouth State University junior Shaun Wilbert (Toms River, N.J./ Toms River South) faced two of the toughest opponents in the country Friday, and was eliminated from his first appearance at the NCAA Division III National Championships, hosted by Loras College.
A three-time All-New England wrestler, Wilbert (right) earned the NCAA berth by winning the New England Conference championship in the 285-pound weight class two weeks ago. The Panther junior drew perhaps the top wrestler in the entire meet in the first round, top-seeded senior Blake Gillis (Spencer, Iowa) of Wartburg. Gillis is a four-time Iowa Conference champion and a three-time national runner-up who owns a 35-1 record this season and a 20-match winning streak. Gillis posted a technical fall over Wilbert in Friday's opening round, 16-0 (4:58).
It didn't get much easier for Wilbert in the wrestle-back, as he was paired up against eighth-seeded freshman Dan Laurent of the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, who had been upset in his first bout. Laurent, the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion with a 29-9 record, also posted a technical fall over Wilbert, 18-3 (4:58).
Wilbert completes the season with a 16-10 record, and improves his career mark to 56-41. Wilbert was at the NCAA meet with Panther head coach Jason Holder.
The Panthers officially finished in a tie for 53rd among the 63 schools represented at the championships.
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