Bendon earns All-American status at Nationals
Sarah Ruiz, staff reporter
The 2013 NCWA National Championships: at place where many dreams came to an end and new memories were made by a few.
For Central, six dreams came to an end while one memory was made.
Junior Nick Bendon was the lone Wildcat to place in the top-eight at the national championships, which were held in Allen, Texas on March 14-16. Bendon placed sixth at 157-pound weight class and earning All-American honors for the second year in a row.
The Wildcats finished fifth as a team in the Division II standings out of 47 schools while Massachusetts Institute Tech won the team title.
“I think [the tournament is] a great opportunity for myself and everyone else,” senior team captain Steven Alfi, history education, said. Bendon wasn’t the only Wildcat to win matches at the tournament, and he wasn’t the only one who had a shot at garnering All-American status, however.
Senior team captain Steven Alfi competed in the 174-pound bracket and went 3 for 2 in the championships, coming within one match of placing in the tournament.
Junior Adam Raemer, 165-pounds, finished 2-2 in the tournament and was one of four returning wrestlers who competed in the NCWA National Championships in 2012.
Raemer faced two All-Americans in his first two rounds of competiton. First, he defeated Anthony Ballinger of California Baptist 6-3, then lost in the second round to the eventual champion, Luke Roth of St. Charles.
Junior Kevin Madson, also a returning national competitor, finished 2-2 in his 235-pound weight class.
Senior Kyle Moore, the Wildcat’s fourth returning national participant and 141-pound wrestler, lost both his matches in the first two rounds and was eliminated from the tournament.
Competing in the 125-pound bracket was freshman Andrew Vulliet, who finished 1-2 in the tournament.
Sophomore Andrew Huerta, 184-pounds, finished the tournament with one win, two losses. Huerta lost in the opening round and then bounced back to pin his next opponent at the 2:37 mark, before losing again to Jasmit Phuka from Douglas College 16-5. Phuka finished eighth to earn All-American honros.
Head coach Eric Idler describes the team as an incredible group who push themselves to be the very best they can be. He thought of the team as not only athletes who were willing to give their all to the sport but who were also willing to push themselves to the best of their ability.
“Being a club sport, they are completely self-driven,” Idler said. “They don’t get scholarship money, these guys work out completely on their own.”
Alfi was impressed with the coaching staff as much as Idler was impressed with his wrestlers.
“I feel like I’ve learned a ton this year from our coaches,” Alfi said. “The knowledge that they have is pretty extensive.”
The Wildcats finished just short of their goal in the tournament, which was to place in the top-three in the team standings and also to place several wrestlers. Central finished seventh in 2012.
And although most the Wildcats missed their bids to become All-Americans, that didn’t mean the season was all for not. Central’s wrestling club does not receive grant money for their athletes while still competing against the toughest in the nation.