PUEBLO, Colo. – After day one of the 2011-12 NCAA Division II National Championships, two King wrestlers are alive for podium placements. Led by senior Frank Morgan's 2-0 day on the mats, King was well represented and will feature multiple All-American candidates based on the team's performances on Friday.
Updated bracket and team scores – click here
Of the four wrestlers that represent King at this year's Division II National Championship, two remain in contention for a place on the podium. Tywan Claxton (Cleveland, Ohio), ranked sixth in the country coming into Friday's action, went 2-1 on the day to preserve a spot on the mats on Saturday. He matched up against another freshman, James Martinez (Colorado-Mesa), in the 141-pound division to open his day with a demonstrative 7-3 victory by decision. After dropping a tough-fought 4-1 decision to Augustana's Chism Fink, 4-1, Claxton rebounded with a 5-4 decision win over No. 8 Charles Napier.
Frank Morgan (Maynardville, Tenn.) went a perfect 2-0 on the day, winning both of his bouts by decision. The senior 197 pounder relished in a 5-2 win over Tanner Kriss (Fort Hayes) and repeated with a narrow 3-2 win over No. 6 Matthew Baker (MC) in the quarterfinal round. He is now set to host Luke McPeek (Adams State), who is ranked No. 2 in the national rankings. The winner of that match will go out to wrestler the winner of No. 1 Dan Scanlan and No. 8 Shane Nolan in the 197-pound championship.
With their finishes after day one, Morgan and Claxton both have solidified top-8 finishes in their weight class and an All-American berth.
Dondricus Anderson (Macon, Ga.) and Brandon Tressler (Orlando, Fla.) also represented King College at the national level but lost each of their first two bouts and are now eliminated from the tournament. Anderson lost a first round bout by decision (8-2) to No. 2 Matthew Meuleners (Northern State) and then lost in an OT session to No. 7 Justin Glenn of Fort Hayes, 4-2. Tressler lost in consecutive bouts to Zack Zelcs (Gannon) and Mitch Schultz (Indianapolis).
In the team standings, King currently sits in 19th overall with 12.5 points awards after Friday's events. They are just a half point away from Minnesota State – Mankato with much flexibility left to be settled in day two action on Saturday. King entered the tournament with a No. 16 overall ranking in the latest Coaches' Poll.
In addition to the two strong locks for All-American berths and chances to medal, King had several academic awards handed out. Sophomore Trevor Wentt (Virginia Beach, Va.) and redshirt-freshman Austin D'Amico (Virginia Beach, Va.) were both given Academic All-American honors as a testament to their hard work away from the mat. King as a team placed 21st academically.
Frank Morgan will take to the mat at 10:00 a.m. MST / 12:00 p.m. EST with live video available through the NCAA Championship website. The Championships will conclude on Saturday night with National Champions and All-Americans crowned at the conclusion of the tournament.