La Crosse, Wis. – The first day of the 2012 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships proved an exceptional one for the York College wrestling team as a trio of Spartans captured All-American honors. George Saliba, Alex Martocello, and Chris Albright each turned in a pair of victories to ensure All-American status this season. These accolades mark the 28th All-American honors a Spartan has captured, dating back to 1973, awarded to 24 different wrestlers. Spartan head coach Tom Kessler has seen a Spartan collect the tremendous accolade 18 times from 14 different wrestlers during his tenure.
Saliba turned in a marvelous performance at 285 pounds as he won his first two matches, including upsetting the weight's top-seed. Facing Mount Union's Derick Hesson, the #1 seed at 285, Saliba worked to a tight 2-1 overtime triumph to upset Hesson in the first round. The Spartan senior backed up that effort with a victory in the second round over SUNY-Cortland's Joey Giaramita 5-2. That triumph allotted Saliba his first All-American honor and puts him in the semifinals against fourth-seeded Corey Anderson of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Martocello ensured his second All-American honor with two triumphs at 184 pounds. The fourth-seeded Spartan bested SUNY-Cortland's Carl Korpi in his first bout 3-1 in overtime. With that first victory under his belt, Martocello moved on to top fifth-seeded David MFF-Dwyer of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Martocello then won for the 32nd time this season as he captured a 3-1 triumph to advance to the semifinal round. There, the senior will face a familiar foe as he squares off with TCNJ's Mike Denver, the #1 seed at 184. The pair has squared off seven times over the previous three seasons, including four times during in-season tournament finals and once during the 2011 NCAA Championships. Denver holds a 6-1 advantage over Martocello, but the Spartan senior will look to win their final bout and avenge last season's 4-1 loss to Denver in the NCAA quarterfinal round.
Albright joins Martocello in capturing his second All-American distinction as he won both of his matches at 141. Albright, the third seed, finished his first bout early as he pinned Elmhurst's Jake Denhof 4:39 into the match. Round two also went Albright's way but it proved this bout where he needed overtime for the victory. The junior bested Andrew Zobac of North Central (IL) 3-2 in OT to advance to Saturday morning's semifinals where he will face #2 seed Kodi Silvestri of Wartburg.
Unfortunately, Matt Heisey's trip to the NCAA Championships came to an abrupt end as he dropped his first two matches at 174 pounds. In his first bout, Heisey squared off with #2 seed Michael Schmitz of Wisconsin-LaCrosse who finished third at last year's tournament. The narrow 6-4 result went Schmitz's way as Heisey moved to the consolation bracket. Heisey then finished his tournament with an 11-7 loss to Olivet's Trevor Tyler. The senior concludes his time with the Green and White sporting a 28-10 record this season and finishes with a career mark of 75-46.
With Friday's results, the Spartans currently sit in seventh-place overall, just a-half-of-a-point behind sixth-place TCNJ.
Saliba, Martocello, and Albright will each look for their first trip to the NCAA Championships finals as wrestling action continues Saturday morning beginning at 10:00 am CST.
PHOTO: Senior George Saliba wrestles during the 2012 Metropolitan Conference Tournament. Courtesy of Brent Duffy - York College (Pa.) Athletic Communications Intern.