KEARNEY, Neb., March 12, 2011 – Former Ledyard star T.J. Hepburn used a win in overtime to earn a spot in the NCAA Division II championship match at 149 pounds. But Hepburn, a junior wrestling for the University of Nebraska-Kearney, fell in triple overtime, 4-2 to Nick Walpole of Indianapolis.
Hepburn earned a spot in the final with a 3-1 semifinal win over Augustana’s Nate Herda with a takedown with 13 seconds left in the third OT period. In the championship match against Walpole, Hepburn trailed 1-0 after two periods.
Hepburn took a 2-1 lead with a third period reversal and built up 55 seconds of riding time before Walpole escaped to tie the match at 2-2. In the third OT, Walpole got a takedown for the victory.
Hepburn finishes the year at 38-4. A year ago, he was third at the NCAA Division II national tournament. This year, Nebraska-Kearney finished eighth in Division II behind Nebraska-Omaha, which won its third straight title.
Two Connecticut wrestlers competed at the NCAA Division III tournament but neither placed in the top eight. Waterford’s Brennan Ward, a senior with Johnson and Wales, won the New England Wrestling Association title at 184 pounds to earn a spot in the tournament. Williams’ Corey Paulish (149) won the NEWA title and qualified with a record of 25-7.