Thomason Heading to Nationals as Spartans Take Third at Metro Conference Championships

YORK, PA – The York College wrestling squad notched three second-place finishes at the 2009 Metro Conference Championships Sunday at the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center. The Green and White finished third out of nine schools with 58.5 points while junior 174-pounder Brian Thomason (Wernersville, Pa./Schuylkill Valley) was selected as an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Wilkes College won the team championship with 98 points.
    Thomason, York’s top 174-pounder, came into the Metro Championships sporting a stellar 25-3 mark and the class’ #1 seed. Thomason bested Elizabethtown’s Paul Connor in his first bout by a solid 7-2 count. In the semifinals, the junior punched his ticket into the championship courtesy of a tight 4-3 win over Wilkes’ Frank Heffernan, who was an at-large berth recipient into last year’s NCAA tournament. Kings’ Michael Reilly, the Metro’s 2008 champion, met Thomason in thrilling title bout. Thomason went up 5-4 at the end of the first period as the junior nearly pinned Reilly midway through the frame. Kings’ 174-pounder wriggled free from Thomason’s grasp to keep the match alive. Reilly turned the bout around in the second period with a 6-0 run courtesy of two penalties and a takedown with a near fall. With the score now standing at 10-5 in Reilly’s favor, he finished off the bout with a 7-2 third period. For his efforts, Reilly was named the championships’ Outstanding Wrestler. Thomason, who now has a 27-4 record, will now have to wait to see if he receives an at-large berth into nationals.
    Senior 133-pound Kyle Flickinger (New Oxford, Pa./Bermudian Springs) and senior 157-pound John Niedrich (Freehold, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) were each finalists in their respective weight classes. Flickinger, the tournament’s #2 seed, began his trip to the finals courtesy of a pinfall over Kings’ Anthony Dietrick at the 6:30 mark of Flickinger’s opening bout. The senior slipped by Hunter’s Sean Messina in the semifinals with a hard-fought 3-2 victory. In the finals, Flickinger squared off against Wilkes’ Josh Pauling, who had previously defeated the Spartan 133-pounder twice during the year, each by 3-2 margins. Unfortunately for the Spartan co-captain, he ended up on the short end of yet another 3-2 score as Pauling took the 133-pound title. Flickinger then successfully defended his second-place slot in a challenge-match against Centenary’s Jay Guricich, taking the match 7-3. That victory, along with his 26-11 record during the year, gives the Spartan a glimmer of hope for the NCAA tournament as he is the first-alternate from the conference.
    Niedrich, the #1 seed at 157 pounds. took a similar trip to the finals as he opened up his championships with a 4-0 decision over Wilkes’ Robert Griffith. The semifinal round proved kind to the Spartan senior co-captain as he won the bout 3-2 over NYU’s Matt Magill to push into the finals. The championship bout proved to be a different story for Niedrich as TCNJ’s Dan DiColo bested the Spartan 157-pounder 7-3 to capture the Metro title and the automatic berth into nationals. Niedrich, who posted a 28-8 campaign during the 2008-2009 season, now awaits for a possible bid into the NCAA tournament as the league’s third-alternate.
    In addition to York’s trio of second-place finishers, the Spartans’ garnered five more top-four finishes. Matt Heisey (Harrisburg, Pa./Cedar Crest), who came on strong at 165 pounds for the Spartans late in the year, captured a third-place spot. Heisey won his first bout 4-2 but then fell to Centenary’s Matt Regan, the #2 seed, in his second match. The rookie wrestled back to win his next two matches, 3-1 and 3-2, to secure third in just his first Metro Championships. Heisey finishes the year with a solid 15-7 mark as he will look to make a huge impact next season.
    The Spartans’ 125-pound Jerrid Hartman (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion), 141-pound Taylor Ulm (Great Meadows, N.J./Hackettstown), 184-pound Chris Elliott (Crofton, Md./South River), and 197-pound James Laughlin (Hanover, Pa./South Western) each notched fourth-place finishes for the Green and White.
    The Spartans conclude their team season with a 15-12-1 mark and an in-season tournament championship. The Spartans’ won the Kings’ College Monarch Tournament earlier in the year and placed fourth at their own Spartan Invitational before taking third at today’s conference championships.
    Thomason now prepares for the 2009 NCAA National Championships as the Spartans’ lone guaranteed-spot participant. If any of the 16 wrestlers from the Metro Conference who have been guaranteed spots into the NCAA Tournament is unable to fulfill their obligations, then Flickinger will be the first wrestler in line to take that spot while Niedrich would be the third in line. The NCAA Championships are set to take place at the U.S. Cellualr Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 6 and 7.