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Shay earns All-American honors at NCAA Division II nationals

Avery Shay, right, and Shippensburg head coach Seth Bloomquist on Saturday at the NCAA Division II nationals in Iowa. Shay finished eighth at 157 pounds. (Naomi Bye photo courtesy of Shippensburg University)

New Fairfield’s Avery Shay, a graduate student at Shippensburg University, wasn’t afraid of the NCAA Tournament stage. He spent three years wrestling with Clarion University at the Division I level from 2018-20, winning 50 matches.

“I really don’t consider myself an underdog because I am older than most of the individuals that I’ll be wrestling, and I also have if not the same than maybe even a bit more experience them,” Shay said before this weekend’s NCAA Division II national championship meet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “But I don’t consider myself that way (as an underdog), I see myself as just as capable as the No. 1 guy.”

Shay (16-5) earned All-American honors for the first time with an eighth place finish at 157 pounds.

Shay picked up three wins on the first day of the tournament. He earned a 4-0 decision in the preliminary round over Lander’s Gage Bernall. Shay then advanced to the quarterfinals of with a tense 1-0 victory over No. 7 seed Jamar Williams of West Liberty thanks a third period escape.

Shay dropped an 8-1 decision to No. 2 seed Nick Novak of St. Cloud State in the quarterfinals but won his first consolation round bout with a 5-2 decision over Carter Noehre of Colorado School of Mines thanks to a third period takedown to turn a one-point lead into a more comfortable three-point advantage.

That win put Shay into the medal round and earned him All-American honors.

On Saturday, Shay lost to Trent Mahoney of King University in the consolation quarterfinals, 20-4 in 6:32 and then fell to No. 3 seed Gabe Johnson of Central Oklahoma in the seventh-place match, getting pinned in 2:19.

The only other Connecticut native in the tournament was Bristol’s Tommy Nichols of American International College, wrestling at 149 pounds.

Nichols (19-10) dropped a 4-3 decision in overtime in his opening round loss to Jacob Simpson of West Liberty and was eliminated with a 12-0 loss to Darick Lapaglia of Central Missouri.

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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