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Weakley, Williams finish fifth in country
By Nick Phillips
UNCP wrestlers Russell Weakley and Mike Williams both finished fifth in their respective weight classes and gathered All- American status at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships on March 11 and 12 in Kearney, Neb.
The duo helped UNCP to its best finish at the NCAA Championships under head coach Jamie Gibbs with their 17th-place finish.
Weakley finished 4-2 in the 125-pound national championship bracket, finishing his collegiate career with a 74-13 record.
After being defeated in his opening matchup against Trevor Franklin of Upper Iowa, Weakley rolled off three consecutive wins in the consolation bracket.
First, Weakley earned a major decision win over Pierre Bondoc of San Francisco State by a 9-1 score, followed by a 10-3 decision win over Western State's Kyle O'Brien.
Weakley then added an 11-3 major decision win over Minnesota State- Moorhead's Corey Ulmer before being knocked off by Newberry's Connor Mc- Donald by a 3-1 score.
Weakley rallied to defeat Minnesota State-Mankato's Andy Forstner by an 8-5 decision to conclude his career.
In the 165-pound bracket, Williams opened his tournament with a 6-1 decision win over Nathan Segman of Nebraska- Omaha before being sent to the consolation bracket following an 11-8 decision loss to Gavin Nelson of Augustana.
There, Williams picked up consecutive decision wins, first over Brandon Eichmann of Minnesota State-Mankato by a 3-2 score and followed by a 3-1 win over Wisconsin-Parkside's Matt Gille.
Williams was slowed in the consolation semifinals by Nebraska-Kearney's Joey Wilson via a takedown in the sudden victory overtime period, but finished his season with a redemption win over Nelson, taking a 6- 5 win in the two wrestlers' second meeting of the tournament.
UNCP's two other national qualifiers, TImdarius Thurston and Brendon Parker-Risk, each were knocked out of their first NCAA Tournament brackets early.
In the 133-pound bracket, Thurston was defeated by No. 1 seed Todd Wilcox of Grand Canyon by a 3-1 score in his opening match before the sophomore rallied back for a 6-4 decision win over Eric Ellington of St. Cloud State in the consolation bracket.
Thurston saw his season come to a close following a 3-1 overtime loss to Western State's Jesse Cruz.
In the 149-pound bracket, Parker-Risk was pinned in the first round by Nick Walpole of Indianapolis before the junior fell to Ashland's Daniel Genetin by a 4-1 decision to close his tournament.