By: Lauren Mason
The SFU men’s wrestling team travelled to Las Vegas, New Mexico this weekend to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II regional tournament.
Going into the tournament, the Clan was ranked number 10 as a team, with three individuals ranked in their respective weight classes as well. Cruz Velasquez ranked #7 in the 141-pound weight class, Tyler McLean ranked #2 in the 165-pound weight class, and Morgan Smith ranked #1 in the 197-pound weight class.
The Clan brought 10 wrestlers all with high hopes to place in the top four and move on to the national tournament. Unfortunately, there were only two wrestlers who will advance to the next tournament in the 2018 postseason.
Those wrestlers were Ciaran Ball and Morgan Smith. Smith will be returning to the national championships for a second time, while Ball will be competing at this tournament for the first time.
Smith started out the first round with a bye, then moved forward with two tech falls to advance to the finals. Smith fought hard but fell short of victory with a close 8–5 match, earning him a second place finish.
Ball began the tournament with two byes to advance him to the championship quarter finals. With a close 4–3 match in which he lost, Ball unfortunately dropped to the consolation side of his bracket. His next match, a 3–1 victory, put him in the running for third place. Ball ended the tournament with an impressive fourth place finish.
When talking with the two qualifiers after the tournament, they seemed excited to perfect their skills, and ready to take on the competition in Iowa in two weeks. Smith said that his “mindset really is just to hold nothing back, and wrestle through every situation.” And Ball stated how he was feeling “very excited, I want to be an All-American, baby!” With these two exciting places, the two will advance on to the NCAA championships in March.
The Clan’s performance at this tournament just goes to prove that these qualifying tournaments are very tough, and wrestlers must work very hard to prove themselves as some of the best in the country. Simon Fraser finished eighth as a team, ending the tournament with 44 points.
Stay tuned for updates on the men’s team as they prepare to compete at the NCAA Division II championships in a few weeks!