Ashcraft Finishes as 184-Pound Runner-Up, Ithaca Finishes Fourth at NCAA Championships
March 09, 2019


ROANOKE, Va. – Saturday evening brought the conclusion of the 2018-19 Division III wrestling season, as the final 10 bouts of the evening convened on the center mat at Roanoke's Berglund Center. Sadly, it was not the story-book ending the Bombers were hoping for, as 184-pounder Jake Ashcraft finished his illustrious Ithaca career as the Runner-Up in a hard-fought defeat in sudden-victory to Western New England's fourth-seed John Boyle.

Despite the defeat, Ithaca still took a silver-lining on the evening. The Bombers took home some hardware on the night, finishing in fourth-place in the team standings. It looked as though it would be an uphill battle for IC to stay in trophy position despite entering the night in third-place with 59.5 points. Although second-place was out of reach with Loras sitting at 66.0 points, the Bombers were locked in a tight battle with Johnson & Wales and Mount Union in a three-way battle for the final two trophies. Although Johnson & Wales was able to jump Ithaca after Jay Albis secured his second straight National Title for the Wildcats at 125-pounds, the Bombers held off Mount Union for the fourth slot. The Raiders had three grapplers in title bouts, but only sophomore Jordin James took home a title at 133-pounds, leaving Mount Union one-point shy of Ithaca's team total.

Tonight was the sixth all-time meeting between Ashcraft and Boyle and it certainly had the look of two wrestlers that were quite familiar with each other's styles and game plans. Ashcraft held a 4-1 edge coming into the night, a record that included a 4-0 decision victory earlier this season at the Ithaca Invitational and a major decision in the third-place bout a season ago. Unfortunately, he was unable to put the exciting finish on what has been an impeccable career for the senior captain.

The tone was set from the outset, as Boyle was able to win out on a bit of a scramble near the right edge of the mat for an early takedown. Ashcraft earned an escape before long and the pair finished the opening period on their feet.

Boyle won first choice, but deferred the pick to Ashcraft, who chose down to begin the middle frame. In his natural element, Ashcraft was able to wiggle out and earn the reversal on Boyle to pull ahead 3-2. The IC senior put together an excellent ride to close out the period still holding the 3-2 advantage.

Boyle chose neutral to begin the third, staying away from Ashcraft's decisive advantage on top. The final period was pretty uneventful, but just before the final horn Ashcraft was hit for a second stall call that tied the bout at 3-3, sending it to sudden-victory.

With both wrestlers emptying the tank, Boyle was able to get in on Ashcraft's leg 10-seconds into the extra session. The IC senior battled hard to turn things into a scramble, but was in a disadvantageous position. In a desperation effort to avoid the clinching takedown he worked himself into a neutral-danger position on Boyle's leg prompting a three-count from the ref. Ashcraft tried to leverage his position before the three-count expired, but the ref blew the horn. Although IC challenged the call, the review was upheld with Boyle taking the two-points to win 5-3.

While the ultimate bout proved disappointing, it was still a weekend to celebrate for the Bombers. For the second straight season, IC amassed five All-Americans in Ferdinand Mase (4th, 125LB), Ben Brisman (4th, 141LB), Austin Whitney (8th, 165LB), Ashcraft (2nd, 184LB), and Jake O'Brien (4th, 285LB). It is the first time in head coach Marty Nichols '90 tenure as head coach that the Bombers have had five-plus All-American honorees in back-to-back seasons. It is the first time since a three-year run from 1988-to-1990 that Ithaca posted five-plus All-Americans in consecutive seasons.

As a team, this year's tournament marked the third straight year that Ithaca has posted a Top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships. It is the first time in Nichols tenure that IC has marked Top-4 finishes in consecutive seasons. Overall, it is the 10th time Ithaca has placed in the Top-10 under Nichols watch and the 20th time in program history.