Pair of former Elizabeth Forward wrestlers advance to Division III Championships
College Football Videos
The Elizabeth Forward wrestling community's heart has shifted to the nation's heartland as two of its favorite sons will try to reach the NCAA Division III podium reserved for 2014 All-Americans.
Seniors Josh Etzel of Washington & Jefferson and Cameron Fine of Waynesburg arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday to continue preparations for their opening matches Friday at the two-day Division III Championships at U.S. Cellular Center.
“It's been fun seeing Josh off and on because our teams compete a lot and we're often in the same events,” said Fine, who will make his first appearance in the national tournament. “It's pretty rare for two guys from a high school that didn't always have the numbers to put together a solid team all the way through the lineup to be at nationals. Even though we're competitors now, I'll always cheer for Josh.”
Etzel has qualified for his third national tournament. Like Fine, he's excited to be reuniting with his former teammate.
“We see each other a lot when we're back home,” Etzel said. “I'm happy for him this season.”
Both qualified for the Division III Championships with top-three finishes at the NCAA Mideast regional at York (Pa.). Both were runners-up in their respective weight classes after posting 3-1 records at the event.
Etzel lost a 7-5 overtime decision to Jon Garrison of Mount Union in the 157-pound championship match, and Fine fell to David Dibenedetto of Washington & Jefferson, 2-0, in the 184-pound title bout despite besting Dibenedetto, 4-1, at the Presidents' Athletic Conference Championships.
Etzel enters the national tournament with a record of 31-3 and 99 career victories. He placed sixth last season to earn NCAA All-America honors, the first Presidents wrestler to record a top-eight NCAA finish since 2002.
“It's been a process,” he said. “I reached my goal of becoming an All-American last year. Now this year, my goal is to win a national championship. I feel pretty confident.”
One of three W&J wrestlers to qualify for the national tournament, Etzel draws a tough assignment in his opener Friday, facing the winner of a match between top-seeded Nazar Kulchytskyy (37-2) of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a two-time national champion (at 157 in 2012 and 165 in 2013), and Kristopher Krawchuk (15-6) of Wilkes, the national runner-up at 157 in 2013.
Etzel is bidding to become just the fourth W&J wrestler to reach 100 career victories.
Waynesburg, which finished third in the team scoring at the regional event, also qualified three wrestlers for nationals — Fine among them.
“This is the first year that Cam has started for us,” Waynesburg coach Ron Headlee said. “He's been in and out of our lineup a lot, and it's easy to get frustrated in that situation. He'd been stuck behind some really good kids, but Cam stuck with it. I just knew when he got his chance in the lineup that he could do well.”
Fine (31-3), who leads Waynesburg with 12 pins, including four in a total of 2 minutes, 18 seconds at the Ohio Northern Invitational, opens the national tournament against Josh Thomson (45-5) of Messiah. Like Etzel, it is a challenging draw. Thomson's 40 victories lead all wrestlers in the Division III Championships bracket.
“It's been a lot of hard work to get here,” Fine said. “I've had to overcome a lot of adversity and injuries, especially this year. Through all of that, you just have to stay focused if you want to achieve your goal. I attribute a lot of it to being in the weight room, running and just the encouragement I get from my teammates.
“This is surreal being here, but it's setting in now. I'm really just focused and determined. I'm grateful to be able to wrestle here.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- College football notebook: Date moved up for Pitt-Penn State game
- Seton Hill teams honored by PSAC
- Former California teammates may soon be college rivals
- Gateway grad Crystol earns All-American nod on Thiel’s line
- 2 polls rank W&J football team in Top 25