Willey claims All-America honors for Panthers
(To watch videos of all five of Mike Willey's matches in the NCAA Tournament, click here)
LA CROSSE, Wisc. – Plymouth State University senior Mike Willey (Tewksbury, Mass.) earned All-America honors Saturday with an eighth-place finish in the 149-pound bracket at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.
Willey, the two-time New England champion, suffered a pair of consolation bracket defeats Saturday to close out his performance in the tournament. He dropped his first bout to Drew Wagenhoffer of Wartburg College, 3-2, and was defeated in the 7th/8th place match by James Locke of Coe College (Iowa). The top eight in each weight class comprise the NCAA Division III All-America Team.
Willey's performance gave Plymouth State four points in the team scoring, which puts PSU in a tie for 40th place. The Panthers were coached this season by first-year Panther head coach Matt Eldredge.
After a scoreless first period against Wagenhoffer, the two wrestlers traded escapes early in the second and third rounds. Wagenhoffer registered a takedown with 25 seconds left in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. Willey recorded an escape with eight seconds left and nearly pulled off a takedown as time expired, but the clock ran out and Wagenhoffer held on for the 3-2 win.
Willey and Locke also went through a scoreless first round and traded escapes in the second and third rounds. Locke took a one-point lead late in the third period and Willey was forced to be more aggressive, which was unsuccessful and led to a Locke takedown and near fall in the closing moments of the bout. Locke finished off the 6-1victory.
Willey was defeated by the No. 1 seed Friday afternoon in his first bout of the double-elimination tournament, but bounced back a pair of victories Friday night in the consolation half of the bracket to earn All-America status. He completes the season with a 24-6 record and an 87-26 career mark.
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