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Eight state natives earn berths to NCAA Division III national tournament

Wesleyan’s Devon Carrillo is one of eight Connecticut natives who qualified to wrestle at the NCAA Division III national championships. (Photo courtesy Wesleyan University)

Eight Connecticut natives won NCAA Division III regional championships Sunday to qualify for the upcoming NCAA Division III national championship on March 9-10 in Cleveland.​

Trumbull’s Cross Cannone (149) of Wartburg College in Iowa won his first NCAA Lower Midwest Regional title to earn his second consecutive NCAA tournament berth while freshman teammate Mike Ross of Foran-Milford (157) won his first Lower Midwest title.​

At the Northeast Regional in Worcester, Middletown’s Devon Carrillo (197) and Norwich’s Isaiah Bellamy (285) won titles for Wesleyan while Windsor Locks’ Khamri Thomas (184) won a championship for Johnson and Wales. New Fairfield’s Taylor Shay (165) won a title for Roger Williams.​

At the Southeast Regional in Virginia, Southington junior Zack Bylykbashi (141) won a title for Washington and Lee and was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.​

The top three wrestlers in each weight class earned a trip the Division III nationals.​

An eighth Connecticut wrestler also qualified. Former Fitch wrestler Adrian Gonzalez of Johnson and Wales finished second at 165 pounds at the Northeast Regional, dropping a 4-2 double OT decision to Shay.​

Cannone (30-0) earned a spot at the NCAA tournament with a 7-1 win Millikin’s Bradan Bart in the semifinals. He won his title bout with a medical forfeit. Ross beat Cornell’s Ben Hewson, 8-0 to win his championship. Ross is now 22-0 on the year with 10 pins. Wartburg had eight individual champions as they easily won the Lower Midwest Regional title.​

Carrillo, in his third season wrestling at the collegiate level, will compete in his third NCAA Tournament while Bellamy qualified for the first times. Carrillo’s regional performance has improved each year—he took third in 2016, second in 2017, and now first in 2018.​

Carillo (35-2) went 4-0 on the weekend with two pins and now has 22 pins on the year. He beat Michael DiNardo of Johnson & Wales, who is ranked No. 8 in the country, in the finals, 7-3.​

Bellamy (32-2) also went 4-0 in the tournament and two pins, he has 21 on the year. In the finals, he faced Joe Fusco of Springfield for the fourth time this season and pinned his opponent in 3:40. Bellamy is 4-0 against Fusco this year with three pins.​

Thomas, a junior, earned his first-ever berth to the NCAA Tournament and won his first Northeast Regional championship with a 4-3 win over Western New England’s John Boyle in double OT.​

Roger Williams’ Shay (36-6) of New Fairfield earned his first Northeast Regional title with a 4-2 win in double OT over Adrian Gonzalez of Johnson & Wales at 165 pounds.​

Bylykbashi (28-8) earned his bid to nationals with a 6-4 overtime win in the semifinals over Matthew Grossman of Wilkes. Grossman is a former national champion, having claimed the 2015 title at 133 pounds.  ​

Bylykbashi then won the 141-pound bracket with a 2-0 decision over Tim Ambacher of Delaware Valley in the title match. Ambacher entered the tournament ranked sixth in Division III.  Bylykbashi will be competing at the nationals for the second straight year.

2018 NCAA Division III Northeast Regional results

NCAA Division III Northeast Regional
2018 – Johnson & Wales (R.I.)
2017 – Johnson & Wales (R.I.)
2016 – Ithaca College (N.Y.)
2015 – Ithaca College (N.Y.)
2014 – Cortland State (N.Y.)
2013 – Cortland State (N.Y.)

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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