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UCO wins fourth straight regional

Garrett Wells scored a late takedown to secure the 184-pound title in leading a parade of seven individual champions that carried Central Oklahoma to its fourth straight NCAA Division II Super Regional IV  Tournament crown Saturday.

The fifth-ranked Wells edged No. 6 Damon Ashworth of Central Missouri 4-1 on a takedown with eight seconds remaining and was joined atop the podium by 141 Dylan Lucas, 149 Dylan Brown, 157 Gabe Johnson, 165 Hunter Jump, 174 Anthony DesVigne and 197 Dalton Abney. It’s the second straight year UCO has crowned seven champions,

The Bronchos also got a runner-up showing from Hvy Shawn Streck in finishing with eight national qualifiers, while 125 Garrett Steidley and 133 Peter Rolle placed fourth to come up just short of the needed third-place finish. Central went 27-5 on the day with 12 bonus-point wins.

Top-ranked UCO tallied 160 points to edge No. 5 McKendree by nine points in claiming its 23rd regional title and the fourth in a row. Maryville took third in the 10-team tourney with 93.5 points, one ahead of Central Missouri.

The Bronchos go to Wichita, Kan. March 15-16 for the NCAA Division II Championships at Hartman Arena.

“I’m really proud of the guys for the way they battled today,” head coach Todd Steidley said. “It was a total team effort and you don’t win championships without contributions from everybody in the room.

“The goal was to qualify all 10 and we came up a little short of that with a couple of tough losses, but we also won some hard matches that we had to have. We’ll work hard the next couple of weeks getting ready for the national tournament and I like the group we have going to Wichita.”

Wells’ dramatic win highlighted UCO’s dominating finals performance.

The top-seeded redshirt freshman cruised into the title bout with two easy wins, scoring a second-period fall in his first match before notching three takedowns in an 11-3 major decision of McKendree’s fourth-seeded Zeke Waltz of McKendree in the semifinals.

Wells broke a scoreless tie in the finals with a quick second-period escape, but Ashworth’s escape in the third tied it. Wells came close to a couple of takedowns before finally striking for the winner with just eight ticks remaining and a video review upheld the call.

Lucas claimed his second straight regional title with a 4-2 upset of second-ranked Ronan Schuelke of McKendree. A first-period takedown was the difference in the match, with two Schuelke escapes and one by Lucas the only scoring after that.

Lucas advanced to the finals with a technical fall and tough semifinal win. The second-seeded junior racked up four takedowns and two…

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