DOVER, Del. – Redshirt freshman Brandon Cray capped off a stellar redshirt year on the mat Sunday winning the 125-pound division at the National Collegiate Open. The Steinert, N.J. native won four matches on the day to highlight Maryland’s performers at the event, which features some of the best up-and-coming wrestlers in the nation.
Cray made quick work of his opening round opponent, as he tech’d Trevor Mello (George Mason) 15-0 in the second period. Cray then held off James Sass (Limestone) in the quarter-finals, winning 3-0 by decision.
Cray then met Charles Lenox (NC State) for the second time this season, beating the Wolfpack wrestler again this time by fall (3:41). Cray moved on to the final to wrestle Brendan Howard (Clarion), and won 3-0 to secure the NCO Title. Cray ends the year 26-7 overall, with two open tournament titles under his belt in his first season of collegiate action.
Fellow freshman Alex Vargas was a three-match winner on the day to place sixth, bouncing back after a close opening round defeat (7-6) to Jonathan Tropea (Rider). Vargas knocked off Johnny Stramiello (Open), James Sass (Limestone) and Ryan Hetrick (USMAPS) before Lenox ended his day in the fifth place match.
Redshirt sophomore Adam Whitesell padded his team-lead in pins (11) with an opening round fall over Taylor Ortz (Clarion), but medically forfeited his next two matches.
Sophomore Brendan Burnham (165) rallied after an opening round setback in the 165-pound division, stringing together three consecutive bonus point victories. Burnham posted a 16-1 tech fall over Taylor Mulkins (USMAPS), then another TF (16-0) over Paul Zacherl (Clarion) to make it to the consi round of 8. Burnham picked up a 9-1 major decision over Matthew Gangayco, before going down to Brett Donner.
Redshirt freshman Garrett Griffith managed a win in the 165-pound bracket, before going down
Sophomore Wade Hodges (157), redshirt freshman Jahi Jones (157), Garrett Griffith (165), Niko Cappello (174), Spencer Woods (174) and Nick McShea all won a match in their respective classes, but went down in the consolation ladder.
The National Collegiate Open marks the end of the season for Maryland’s redshirt wrestlers, but the Terps will return to competition at the Big Ten Championships March 4-5 in Bloomington, Ind.