CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Mar. 11) – For the first time in program history, the University of Mount Olive men’s wrestling program earned All-American honors following an eighth-place podium finish by redshirt junior Michael Vernagallo at the NCAA National Championships in the 165-weight class March 11.
In its fourth year as a program, Mount Olive qualified a program-record five wrestlers for the national event and finished tied for 29th overall in a field of more than 30 teams. The Trojans were the third-highest finishers in Super Region II, as Lander finished national runner-up and Newberry placed 27th. UMO had a stellar season on the mat posting a 12-6 overall record with a 6-4 mark in the league while boasting a program-best three all-conference recipients.
Vernagallo recorded a 3-3 overall record at the two-day event, including one of the biggest upsets of the tournament in the blood round to become an All-American. In the preliminary round, he made quick work of Drew Wiechers of Ashland with a 26-15 major decision before suffering a close 3-2 loss via decision to Ty Lucas of Central Oklahoma to fall into the consolation bracket. Vernagallo responded with a 14-12 decision against Will Kuster of Drury to enter the blood round. He faced No. 1 seeded Shane Gantz of Wisconsin-Parkside, who entered the event undefeated this season, and in just 34 seconds pinned him to claim a top-eight spot in the 165-weight class. The following day, Vernagallo fell late in a defeat via fall in consolation round three before suffering an injury in the next match to ultimately place eighth overall.
Redshirt freshman Dallas Wilson posted a 2-2 record in the 149 weight class, but fell in the blood round on Friday evening. He battled to a 5-2 decision over Austin Fietz of Lake Erie before suffering a 27-6 technical fall to Wyatt Turnquist of Northern State. Wilson responded in the consolation bracket with a 12-0 major decision over Evan Davis of Ashland but fell in the following bout to Brik Filippo of Central Oklahoma by a slight 3-0 decision.
Freshman Calan Staub was the only other UMO wrestler to record a win with a 12-10 decision over Dayton Fields of Newberry before back-to-back losses.
Redshirt senior Nico Ramirez and redshirt freshman Taylor Robinson each made their first appearance at Division II Nationals but dropped from the competition after consecutive losses.
— From University of Mount Olive Athletics