Fri, Mar. 9, 2012 - [Wrestling]
This morning, Loras College sophomore Joe 'Barney' Wood made his first appearance at the NCAA Division III National Championships in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Wood won the Iowa Conference title at 149 pounds and was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler on February 24.
After winning the title as the #2 seed, Wood (20-17) is seeded #8 at this weekend's championships. He will face Augustana's Alberto Quiros in the first round. The event begins at 11:00 AM central time.
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Rd. 1 vs. Alberto Quiros (AUGUSTANA) - Wood def. Quiros, 3-2 decision with a takedown with :45 seconds left to go up 3-1. Quiros escaped late, but Wood held on for the win.
Quarterfinals vs. #1 Tony Valek (AUGSBURG) - Wood def. Valek, 3-2 in OT. Each wrestler earned an escape in regulation (Wood first to go up 1-0 after 9 seconds of the 2nd period, Valek on the option Wood gave him to start the 3rd). The first overtime period went scoreless for all 60 seconds. On top for OT2, Wood rode Valek with one stoppage as the wrestlers reached the edge of the mat. In OT3, Wood moved the action out of the middle of the mat and slipped a 2-point reversal on Valek with less than 5 seconds to go and a 3-1 lead for the Duhawk. A whistle shortly after with 3 seconds to go led to a restart in the middle, where Wood essentially allowed the #1 seed up after one second of confrontation, winning the quarterfinal 3-2.
As a freshman, he was one win from nationals. Now, Joe 'Barney' Wood is a sophomore. He lost 17 matches in the regular season but continued to improve over the course of the season. He was the #2 seed at the Iowa Conference championships and knocked off the #1 seed in his own gym on the way to the 2012 IIAC 149-pound title and Outstanding Wrestler award.
Now, head coach Randy Steward is calling Wood's two wins on Friday "a turning point for our program".
Peaking at the right time of his sophomore campaign, the #8-seed Wood went 2-0 in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on Day 1 of the 2012 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. In doing so, he avenged a regular season loss and knocked off the 149-pound bracket's #1 seed.
The initial match combined the butterflies of the first NCAA match of a career with the lingering thoughts of a 13-5 loss in mid-January to Quiros of Augustana.
Both factors were non-factors after just a few moments.
"Quiros' style is different than Barney's," head coach Randy Steward said. "But once he settled in and got a feel for how the match was going to go, he was great."
"I wasn't in good shape (for the regular season match)," Wood said on Friday.
"We were coming off of break and he burnt me out. I knew this one would be completely different. I'm in my best shape of the season."
Tied at 1-1 and appearing as if things were headed to overtime, Wood took what he felt had to be ‘my 20th shot' and earned a 2-point takedown. He remained in control until the closing moments, when Quiros escaped to make it 3-2. There wasn't enough time for another shot by Quiros, let alone another point. Wood advanced to face the top-seeded Augsburg wrestler, Tony Valek.
By winning his first bout, Wood and his fellow quarterfinalists were off until the night session.
Valek, a two-time finalist at the national tournament, was 30-0 entering his match with Wood.
He would leave 30-1.
"Plain and simple, we're out there trying to crush each other's dreams," Wood said after the match. "We both have dreams of winning the whole thing, and if I'm not going to go after him, there's no point in being out there."
"His strength seemed to be on the top, and I'm comfortable on the bottom."
Wood was aggressive and took the first shot in the first period, but came up empty. Neither wrestler cracked the scoreboard after three minutes.
To start the second period, Wood was in the bottom position. Nine seconds later, he had escaped – having gained the confidence of knowing that strength vs. strength, he had won the first challenge.
With just nine seconds of riding time to contend with, Wood gave Valek a free release and the match was tied 1-1 with just under two minutes of regulation wrestling to go. The pair locked horns a couple times at the end of regulation, but neither claimed the decisive points.
The first overtime (one minute in length) was much of the same, with neither wrestler earning the sudden victory points needed.
Following the coin toss, Wood was on top to start the second overtime – the first of two 30-second periods. Wood stayed in control, nearly losing the grip on Valek once during the 30 second scrap. To start the third overtime, he told himself ‘I got this one'.
As the period quickly wound down, Wood was able to get to his feet.
"He threw a leg in, I just kept shaking, he got too high, and I was able to jump right on him for two (points)," Wood recalled Friday night.
The whistle blew with three seconds left and Wood in front 3-1. The sophomore, on top for the restart, held Valek briefly before allowing an escape as the final buzzer sounded for a 3-2 win.
"I'm used to being on the bottom in these types of battles. I have two older brothers! I spent most of my time as a kid trying to get out from under them when we would be messing around in the house," he said.
"I was able to catch a glance of my family near the scoreboard to start the final overtime. I knew then I could get out and get the win."
Steward noticed Wood's enthusiasm to start the final overtime as well.
"That's what wrestling is all about," Steward proclaimed. "He was clapping his hands and felt good at that point. He's shines in big matches. The Barney we've seen in the last month – excited, working hard, preparing – that is going to do so much for this program going forward. It makes us better. It can be a turning point for our program."
Now, guaranteed a spot on the All-American podium, Wood is on to the semifinals. He will face #4-seed Jeremy Stierly of Ithaca on Saturday morning. Stierly won his first match 10-2 and quarterfinal match 7-4, both over Iowa Conference opponents. The bottom half of the semifinals includes the #2 and #3 seeds.
SEMIFINALS vs. #4 Jeremy Stierly (Ithaca) - Stierly def. Wood, 6-4 in OT2. The first period went to Stierly, who earned the first takedown of the match. Wood was out quickly once again with virtually no riding time against him. Stierly escaped to start the second and opened a 3-1 lead, which Barney chipped into with an escape of his own after 40 seconds of the final regulation period. His aggressiveness paid off to the tune of a 3-3 tie. The pair traded single escape points in the early OT sessions. The second sudden victory 60-second session was nearly over and still 4-4 when Stierly scooted around in the closing two seconds of the period to earn a takedown and the victory.
Consolation semifinals vs. Drew Wagenhoffer (Wartburg) - Wood def. Wagenhoffer, 6-3 to advance to 3rd place match. He used a strong first period to gain control. It was 5-3 after the first 3 minutes, Barney escaped to start the second period, taking a 6-3 lead and neither wrestler would score another point. This was Wood's highest scoring match of the day, and second tournament win over Wagenhoffer this year (IIAC semifinals).
3rd place match vs. #1 Tony Valek (Augsburg) - Valek def. Wood, 5-3. After a scoreless first period, Wood escaped twice to open a 2-0 led on Valek after five minutes of action. The third provided a total of six points. After an escape by Valek to start the period to make it 2-1, he then logged two takedowns in the final 30 seconds to claim the victory.
Wood finished the 2012 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships with a record of 3-2. He is Loras' highest placing individual at nationals since Terry Morgan was 3rd in 2004-05.