Five Ithaca Wrestlers Earn All-America Honors, Three Alive for National Titles Heading Into Saturday
March 09, 2018


CLEVELAND, Ohio – The third-ranked Ithaca College wrestling team was back on the mats on Friday evening with all seven competitors still alive following the morning session on Friday's opening day action at the NCAA Division III Championships. Although IC suffered its first casualties of the event, five wrestlers were able to advance to the final day of the season tomorrow, while three IC grapplers are still alive for individual titles heading into Saturday.

Headlining the action were the performances of sophomore Ben Brisman (141), senior Nick Velez (165) and junior Jake O'Brien (HWT) who each won their Quarterfinal Round bouts to advance to tomorrow morning's semifinals. Two additional Bombers locked up All-America honors during the wrestle-backs, as junior Ferdinand Mase (125) and junior Jake Ashcraft (184) picked up critical wins to earn their first career All-American placements.

It is the first time since 2012 that Ithaca has had five wrestlers earn All-American placement. It is 10th time in the program's history that it has had five All-Americans, overall.

In the team standings, Friday evening saw defending National Champion Wartburg pull well-ahead of the field, as the Knights look on their way to capturing a second straight team title and seventh team title over the last eight seasons. Wartburg has 76.5 team points following the first day of action, while Augsburg and Ithaca are neck-and-neck for second in the team standings. The Auggies narrowly pulled ahead of the Bombers during the final wrestle-backs of the evening, sitting at 44.5 points through Day 1. IC registered 44.0 points to sit in third. Johnson & Wales (R.I.) and Messiah round out the Top-5, sitting at 32.5 and 30.0 team points, respectively.

The following is a breakdown of Ithaca's bouts on Friday evening.

125-LB – Ferdinand Mase (Jr.)
Championship Quarterfinal: (8) Nick Mancini (MT. UNION) def. Ferdinand Mase (ITHACA) | DEC: 2-0
Wrestle-back Round 2: Ferdinand Mase (ITHACA) def. (7) Victor Gliva (AUGSBURG) | DEC: 9-4

Perhaps the hottest wrestler during the morning session, junior Ferdinand Mase returned to the mat on Friday evening looking to lock up his first All-American honor. Unfortunately, that would have to wait, as Mount Union's eighth-seeded Nick Mancini was able to keep Mase off the scoreboard in a 2-0 decision.

The difference in the bout came down to the second period, as Mase was unable to shake free from a relentless ride by Mancini. Mount Union's man rode out the entirety of the second period to build a critical advantage.

Starting the third period on top, Mancini was able to break free for the lone point in the tilt on an escape, before Mase could whittle down the ride time. Mancini was able to play keep away throughout the remainder of the bout, staving off a few shots from Mase down the stretch to maintain the edge.

Despite the set-back, Mase got the job done in his final bout of Day 1, scoring an impressive 9-4 decision over seventh-seeded Victor Gliva of Augsburg to earn the first All-America honor of his career.

The two wrestlers had a defensive opening period with neither wrestler able to score during the first three minutes. That trend changed in the second frame. Although Gliva was able to score an escape to take a 1-0 lead, Mase was able to pull ahead with takedown and solid ride. The two grapplers traded reversals during the third frame, while Mase was able to score a late takedown to put things out of reach.

Mase will continue his run in the wrestle-backs tomorrow morning when he faces a rematch against top-seeded CJ Pestano of Central College. IC's junior kicked off the National Championships with a 6-5 decision over Pestano during the morning session on Friday.

133-LB – Tito Colom (So.)
Championship Quarterfinal: (3) Brock Rathbun (WARTBURG) def. Tito Colom (ITHACA) | FALL: 3:40
Wrestle-back Round 2: Owen McClave (COAST GUARD) def. Tito Colom (ITHACA) | TB-1: 2-1

In a rematch from earlier this season, Colom hoped to keep his surprise run alive when he took on Wartburg's three-seed in Brock Rathbun. The Knights man looked much the aggressor throughout a first period that saw him notch two takedowns. Colom registered an escape, but trailed 4-1 with 1:30 of riding time at his disadvantage.

Unfortunately, Colom ultimately was unable to withstand the barrage of offense from Rathbun. The Knights man was able to take Colom to his back 40-seconds into the second period to lock in the pin. Colom went to the wrestle-backs in search of keeping his All-America dreams alive.

Sadly, the sophomore was unable to realize those dreams in his first National Championship appearance. He fell in a narrow 2-1 tiebreaker round loss to Owen McClave of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, becoming the second Bomber to leave the tournament field.

Neither wrestler was able to score much during the seven minutes of regulation or an additional one-minute of overtime. Each was only able to register a lone escape, sending the match into the tiebreaker at 1-1. McClave was able to ride out Colom during the first 30-seconds. However, with Colom on top, McClave was able to get an escape 10-seconds into the session. Although Colom pressed the issue, needing a takedown to stay in the tournament, McClave was able to keep him at bay and hold on for the 2-1 win.

141-LB – Ben Brisman (So.)
Championship Quarterfinal: (7) Ben Brisman (ITHACA) def. (2) Josh Martin (CORNELL) | DEC: 3-2

Sophomore 141-pounder Ben Brisman got Ithaca off the mark during the night session on Friday, earning Ithaca's first All-America honor of 2018 NCAA Division III Championships. He found just enough offense to spring the mild upset, besting Cornell College's second-seed Josh Martin in a narrow 3-2 decision.

The difference in the match was an opening period takedown for IC's breakout sophomore. Staving off an earlier shot from Martin, Brisman found his opponent off-balance and rushed him for a double-leg cover-up to lock-in the first two points of the bout.

The early lead was whittled away with first and second period escapes by Martin to level the score at 2-2. Down to begin the third period, Brisman got a explosive drive off the start and earned the escape point five-seconds into the final frame. He saw out the win with textbook defense, staving off several shots by Martin with excellent strength and flexibility to punch his ticket to tomorrow morning's semifinals.

Brisman is set to face one of the great underdog stories of the NCAA Championships tomorrow morning, as he takes on unseeded Brendan Ladd of Alma College. Ladd earned a 15-8 decision over Elmhurst's third-seeded Jimmy McAuliffe during the Friday evening session.

165-LB – Nick Velez (Sr.)
Championship Quarterfinal: (8) Nick Velez (ITHACA) def. (1) Mike Ross (WARTBURG) | INJ: 4:49 (13-3)

Perhaps the most anticipated battle of the evening for the Bombers was a rematch at 165-pounds, as senior eighth-seed Nick Velez took on Wartburg's top-seeded Mike Ross. The duo locked in a heated battle at NWCA National Duals with the Knights' man taking a 6-2 decision. IC's senior flipped the script this time around, scoring the triumph over Ross to punch his ticket to tomorrow's Semifinal Round.

The action was intense right from the opening whistle. Ross scored the first takedown of the match to take a brief 2-1 lead, before Velez earned a quick escape. IC's senior remained determined and dealt back a nice single-leg takedown, but Ross wiggled free to lock the match at 3-3 heading to the second.

Velez took down after Ross deferred to begin the second. He wasted little time in retaking the lead with an escape quickly into second frame. The turning point in the match came with a little under a minute left in the period. Velez was able to get in on a shot and drive Ross to the mat near the scorer's table to extend his lead to 6-3. Ross did not rise quickly looking to have tweaked his ankle.

Although Wartburg's guy attempted to give it a go, he clearly was no match for the motivated Velez, especially not at less than 100-percent. Velez earned a quick reversal off the restart and tilted Ross for four more near-fall points as time expired in the second period, building his lead to 13-3. A visibly frustrated Ross took an injury default during the break, sending Velez to tomorrow's semi's.

Velez is set to face fourth-seed Frank Aiello of Wheaton (Ill.) tomorrow morning. Aiello scored a 4-3 decision over Cortland's unseeded grappler Zach Zupan to earn his place in the semifinals.

174-LB | Jaison White (Sr.)
Wrestle-Back Round 1: Sawyer Massie (LA CROSSE) def. Jaison White (ITHACA) | FALL: 4:23

Senior Jaison White returned to the mats on Friday evening looking to keep his All-America dreams alive during the second session. Unfortunately, those dreams came to an end in the first wrestle-back round, as he was pinned by Sawyer Massie of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

White was on the other hand of brutal first period fall by top-seeded 174-pounder in Wartburg's Eric DeVos during the morning session. The senior did not look 100-percent during the evening session despite emptying the tank in a valiant effort against Massie.

La Crosse's wrestler scored two takedowns during the first period and earned an early takedown in the second period to build a 6-2 lead. Although White was able to break free to close the deficit to 6-3, Massie once again got in on a shot and was able to leverage White to his back for the fall at 4:23.

The result brought the end of White's wrestling career at Ithaca. He finishes as a two-time National Qualifier and the 2017 Northeast Regional 174-Pound Champion.

184-LB | Jake Ashcraft (Jr.)
Championship Quarterfinal: (7) John Boyle (W. NEW ENGLAND) def. (2) Jake Ashcraft (ITHACA) | FALL: 1:36
Wrestle-back Round 2: (2) Jake Ashcraft (ITHACA) def. Deuly Espinal (CORTLAND) | FALL: 4:28

Junior second-seed Jake Ashcraft entered the day with some of the highest expectations for the Bombers in his first NCAA Championships appearance. Unfortunately, he had his title hopes surprisingly dashed in blur during his opening bout of the evening, losing to Western New England's John Boyle in a first period fall (1:36) during his Quarterfinal Round bout.

Possessing a rare blend of strength and flexibility, Ashcraft thrived in unorthodox positions all season, finding success when other wrestlers of lesser ability would certainly have wilted. Sadly, he had the table flipped in his match against Boyle.

The opening minute may have been a premonition of things to come, as he and Boyle were tangled up to a point where either wrestler looked to be in control for a takedown. Eventually the sequence was whistled to a stop for a stalemate, but Ashcraft was not so lucky the second time. Off the restart, the two wrestlers again got engaged in some serious hand fighting; however, Ashcraft was slightly off balanced and in a blur of a few seconds the IC junior was on his back, as Boyle locked in a quick pin to earn a stunning upset.

Although his national championship dreams were dashed, Ashcraft still had much to battle for when he entered into the wrestle-backs later in the evening. For the third time this season, Ashcraft faced SUNY Cortland's 184-pound standout in Deuly Espinal. Friday night's results followed similar blue-print to the previous battles, as Ashcraft was able to score the second-period fall at 4:28.

Espinal actually gained the early lead with two first-period takedowns, taking a 4-2 lead through the opening three minutes. That did not last, as Ashcraft regained his form to dominate the middle frame. He scored an early escape to shave the deficit to 4-3, before he got in on the leg and covered up Espinal for a go-ahead takedown to take his first lead in the bout at 5-4. Once on top in the ride, Ashcraft went to work, tilting Espinal for four near-fall points, before putting Cortland's grappler to his back for the pin. The All-American honor is the first of his career.

Ashcraft will face Millikin's sixth-seed in Kaejion Jennings in tomorrow's Wrestle-back Round 3.

285-LB – Jake O'Brien (Jr.)
Championship Quarterfinal: (3) Jake O'Brien (ITHACA) def. (6) Austin Bellile (MSOE) | DEC: 10-3

The Bombers third wrestler to advance to tomorrow's Semifinal Round came in the heavyweight division, as junior Jake O'Brien secured his All-America honors for a second consecutive season with a 10-3 decision in his Quarterfinal Round matchup against sixth-seeded Austin Bellile of Milwaukee School of Engineering.

O'Brien led this one wire-to-wire, lifting Bellile completely off the mat with a huge double-leg slam, before later tilting Bellile for four near-fall points. The athletic IC junior rode out the majority of the period to build a large ride-time advantage, taking a 6-1 lead to the break. O'Brien would add an escape and a takedown to build his advantage to 9-3, registering his 10th point on ride time.

The win sets up a huge semifinal rematch against SUNY Oneonta's star-studded heavyweight in second-seeded James Bethel. O'Brien and Bethel split a pair of matchups during the regular season, each coming out on the winning end once in a pair of 3-2 decisions.

Action is slated to resume tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. inside the Cleveland Public Auditorium.