OMAHA, Nebraska, March 13, 2010 — Two former state wrestler earned All-American honors at their respective NCAA championship tournaments. Former Ledyard star T.J. Hepburn (149) finished third for the University of Nebraska-Kearney at the NCAA Division II tournament in Omaha, Neb. Former Waterford wrestler Brennan Ward (184) finished second for Johnson & Wales at the NCAA Division III tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Hepburn led No. 9 Nebraska-Kearney to a third place finish in the NCAA Division II tournament. Hepburn, a sophomore, won five straight bouts in the consolation round to take third after losing his opening match of the tournament. He outlasted No. 2 Mitch Smith of West Liberty (W.V.), 7-6 in the consolation quarterfinals and slipped past Derek Bomstead of Minnesota State-Moorhead, 3-2 in the consolation semifinals. In the third place bout, Hepburn (44-9) beat No. 5 Nate Herda of Augustana, 5-3.
At the NCAA Division III tournament, Ward dropped a 7-4 decision to Phil Moenkedick of Concordia in the finals. But Ward pinned No. 4 seed Gabe Youel of North Central College in the semifinals and upset the No. 1 seed Tyler Burkle of Coe College in the quarterfinals. Ward won the New England Wrestling Association tournament to qualify for the nationals.