Trio of Tigers qualify for nationals, as wrestling places fourth at 2019 NCAA Regional
February 24, 2019


Kaidon Winters, Dempsey King and Connor Calkins qualify for 2019 NCAA Championship

BROCKPORT, NY – Sophomore Kaidon Winters (Athens, PA/Athens Area), junior Dempsey King (New Hartford, NY/New Hartford) and senior Connor Calkins (Almond, NY/Alfred-Almond) of the RIT wrestling team qualified for nationals, as the No. 19 RIT wrestling team finished fourth out of 18 teams at the 2019 NCAA Mideast Regional from the Special Events Recreation Center at The College of Brockport on Feb. 23-24. RIT earned its best-ever finish at regionals, scoring 96.5 points. Ithaca won the regional team title with 166.5 points.

The top three finishers in each weight class earned automatic bids to the NCAA Division III Championships on March 8-9 from the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Va. This will be the third straight season that RIT had three student-athletes qualify for nationals. All three grapplers will be making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"The tournament was tough as it has ever been and our team stood together and battled every round," said RIT head coach Jason Bovenzi. "Having three qualifiers is a terrific accomplishment considering the depth of our region."

Winters, who entered the meet ranked third nationally at 157 lbs., won all four of his matches to win his first regional title and improve to 31-0 on the season. Winters, the top seed, needed just 39 seconds to pin Zack Brown of host Brockport in the opening round and pinned JT Beirne of The College of New Jersey in 3:59 in the quarterfinals Saturday. On Sunday, Winters ensured he would make the trip to nationals with a win by fall in 3:44 against Dylan Van Sickell of Stevens in the semifinal. Winters won his first NCAA Regional by shutting out Christopher Muce of Centenary, 4-0 in the title match. Winters has now won 17 of his 31 matches by fall this season.

Dempsey King (New Hartford, NY/New Hartford), the top-seed in the regional at 165 lbs., earned runner-up honors. He earned a bye in the opening round and rolled to a 12-0 win over Demitereus Henry of SUNY Cortland in the quarterfinals. King, who is ranked sixth nationally at 165 lbs., defeated Dylan Schwartz of Muhlenberg, 4-0 in the semifinals to clinch a trip to nationals. King is now 24-5 on the season.

Connor Calkins (Almond, NY/Alfred-Almond) placed third at 285 lbs. for the second straight season, going 4-1 on the weekend. On Saturday, Calkins earned a win by fall over Joseph Moreno of Stevens and a 3-1 decision over Keegan Connelly of Scranton. Calkins, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, fell to top-seeded James Bethel of Oneonta State in the semifinals Sunday morning, but rebounded to defeat Scott Schaeffer of Muhlenberg by fall in 2:29 in the consolation semifinal. With an NCAA Tournament berth on the line, Calkins broke a 1-1 tie with a late takedown to defeat Blake Bunce of Merchant Marine Academy, 3-2. Calkins moved to 26-7 on the season with 15 wins by either fall or technical fall.

Sophomore Zach Stedeford (Pittsburgh, PA/North Allegheny) finished 4-2 over the weekend and just missed making his first trip to nationals, as he placed fourth at 149 lbs. On Saturday, Stedeford won his first round match by pin before falling to Ryan Snow of Brockport, 6-2. Stedeford would win his next three matches in the consolation rounds before facing off against versus Snow in the third-place match with a berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line. Snow would get a point on a reversal in the third period and hang on to defeat Stedeford, 3-2. Stedeford finished the season with a 25-7 mark.

John Donohue (Smithtown, NY/Hauppauge) placed seventh overall at 197 lbs., going 3-2 on the weekend, while ending his season with a fall in 1:05 over Elijah Flasher of Elizabethtown in the seventh place match. Donohue finished the year 24-13 with 10 pins. Isaiah Ocasio (Vineland, NJ/Vineland) placed eighth overall at 141 lbs. winning two matches on the weekend. He recorded 15 wins in 2018-19.

Chris Dean (Long Branch, NJ/Long Branch) (125 lbs.), Chris Horton (Athens, PA/Athens Area) (133 lbs.), Joe Lupisella (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder) (174 lbs.) and Joe Cutugno (Ventnor, NJ/Atlantic City) (184 lbs.) each won one match apiece, before being eliminated from contention. Dean finished his freshman season with 16 wins, while Horton, who was nationally-ranked at 133 lbs. earlier in the season, picked up his 25th victory of the season and will finish the year 25-8. Lupisella finishes his sophomore season with a 13-6 mark.

Cutugno, who advanced to the NCAA Championship last season, ends his RIT career with a 69-48 mark in five seasons. He finished 22-7 in 2018-19.