KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 7, 2015) – On Saturday, the USMMA wrestling team hosted the 21st Annual All-Academy Championships, welcoming in the squads from Air Force, Army, The Citadel, Coast Guard, Navy, Norwich and VMI for the annual event. It was the first time in eight years that the Mariners held the event at O'Hara Hall and it was a very successful day of competitions.
The Mariners had seven wrestlers compete on the day and were led by sophomore Patrick Rooney (Belgrade, Minn.), who finished in fourth place in the 184-pound weight class with an overall record of 2-2. Four other wrestlers picked up one victory at the event: sophomore Isaac Hammonds (Dover, Ohio) at 141, sophomore Nathan Twito (Ames, Iowa) at 149, senior Branden Yeik (Bremerton, Wash.) at 165 and junior Ricky Fisher (Nashville, Tenn.) at 197. As a team, USMMA finished tied for seventh place with Norwich University with 5.5 points.
The day started with a welcoming address and well wishes from U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Superintendent Rear Admiral James A. Helis. Then the wrestlers battled through five long rounds of competition at each weight class before the final Championship Round. Prior to the start of the Finals, the wrestlers from each Academy took their places on the mats to be recognized while the USMMA Regimental Band played the Armed Forces Medley.
The overall team championship went to the U.S. Air Force Academy, which claimed its first All-Academy crown since 2002 and dethroned Navy, which had won the last six championships. The Division III championship went to Coast Guard.
The Most Pins Award was earned by the champion of the 165-pound weight class, Peyton Walsh of Navy, who had an exciting pin to clinch the championship over Air Force's Jesse Stafford after trailing the entire match.
The Ken Shelton Most Outstanding Wrestler Award went to Nate Giorgio of Coast Guard, who battled through rough Division I opponents to claim the crown at 133 with a 5-2 decision over Anthony McHugh of Air Force that saw the winning three points come in the final minute of the bout. It was also Giorgio's 100th career collegiate victory.
The Mariners will be back in action on Wednesday night, Feb. 11, when they travel up to New London, Conn. to take on their chief rivals from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. First bout is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bears' Roland Hall.