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Three Connecticut wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Div. 1 tournament

PITTSBURGH, Pa., March 8 – North Carolina State freshman Kevin Jack of Danbury won two matches in Sunday’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament to qualify for the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament on March 19-21 in St. Louis.

Jack took fourth in the ACC Tournament at 141 pounds . He won his quarterfinal bout over Pitt’s Ben Ross in 3:21 before losing to North Carolina’s Joseph Ward in the semifinals, 6-1. Jack beat Duke’s Evan Botwin by tech fall, 15-0, in the consolation semifinal. In the consolation final, Jack lost to Virginia’s Joseph Spisak, 9-7.

North Carolina State finished sixth in the ACC Tournament. Virginia won the ACC title with 85 ½ points with Pittsburgh (71), Virginia Tech (59.5) and North Carolina (42) rounding out the top four teams.

Malone qualifies for NCAA Tournament
COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 7 – Junior Dominick Malone (Granby) went 2-2 and finished 11th at the Big Ten tournament this weekend as Northwestern University was ninth. Malone (22-17) has clinched one of the Big 10’s 12 automatic bids to the NCAA Division I wrestling championships.

McKeever qualifies for NCAA tournament
BETHLEHEM, Pa., March 7 – Brookfield’s Jack McKeever, a junior at Binghamton University at 184 pounds, went 3-3 and finished sixth at the EIWA championships. It was enough to earn an invitation to the NCAA Division I tournament.

McKeever (23-14) won two of his first three matches. A consolation round bout with Columbia’s Zach Hernandez loomed as the pivotal match with the winner getting a berth to the NCAA tournament. McKeever grabbed a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. Hernandez escaped to open the second period, tying the match. In the third period, McKeever posting a takedown in the final minute to take the lead and he prevailed, 3-2. He held off a late charge by Hernandez to secure the win.

McKeever then fell, 8-0, to Penn’s Lorenzo Thomas in the consolation semifinals. In his fifth-place contest with Tom Sleigh of Bucknell, McKeever battled, but dropped a 1-0 decision to settle for sixth.

Gillen takes fourth
PITTSBURGH, March 8 — Junior Patrick Gillen (285) of Shelton went 2-2 and finished fourth at 285 pounds to help No. 18 Virginia win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship Sunday. Gillen lost in the consolation final to Ty Walz of Virginia Tech, 12-6. Gillen beat North Carolina’s Frank Abbondanza, 9-1 and topped Duke’s Brendan Walsh in the consolation semifinals, 6-1.Gillen finished the season with a 15-12 record.

Schuster takes sixth at EIWA
BETHLEHEM, Pa., March 7 – Sacred Heart’s Conan Schuster took sixth at 174 pounds at the EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) championships at Lehigh. Schuster was 3-3 at the tournament, beating two seeded wrestlers. He beat No. 5 Bradley Wukie of Pennsylvania, 5-3 and No. 8 Richard McDonald of Brown by pin in 2:54. “Conan wrestled his heart out all tournament,” said head coach Andy Lausier. “This is a huge step in his career and for our program as well.”

Sacred Heart finished 15th in the field of 16 teams and did receive the EIWA Sportsmanship Award, as decided by the league officials. Cornell with 176 points won the 111th annual tournament followed by host Lehigh with 145 and Bucknell with 90 points.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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