WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior Blake Fisher (Seaford, N.Y.) became the first Oswego State wrestler since 2009 to qualify for the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships after placing second at 157 pounds at the NCAA Northeast Regionals.
Fisher saw his 15-match winning streak come to an end on Sunday in the championship bout, but still punched his national ticket as the top three finishers in each weight class advanced to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 15-16.
Cortland finished as the team champion with 133.5 points, while Oswego State placed 12th out of 18 teams with 34.5 points.
Fisher started his day by upsetting nationally sixth-ranked Derek Brenon from Ithaca, 3-2, in thrilling fashion during the semifinal round. After a scoreless first period, Fisher chose bottom to start the second period. He registered a quick escape to take a 1-0 lead heading into the third. Brenon opted for bottom, and registered a reversal with 54 seconds remaining in regulation to take a 2-1 lead.
However, Fisher battled until the final horn as he recorded a reversal of his own with one second left to post the 3-2 win and earn a spot in the national tournament regardless of the championship bout outcome.
In the final match against nationally seventh-ranked Troy Sterling from Cortland, Sterling notched an early takedown, but Fisher escaped seconds later as he faced a 2-1 deficit heading into the second period. Sterling deferred choice to Fisher, who picked bottom, and scored the lone point of the frame on an escape to send the wrestlers’ deadlocked at 2-2 to start the third. Sterling selected bottom and escaped 46 seconds into the third for the victory.
Fisher is the first Laker to qualify for the NCAA Tournament since Derrick Smith in 2009 and the first wrestler at 157 pounds to reach nationals since Jeff Holmes in 2001.
Classmate Omar Santiago (Sr., Huntington Station, N.Y.) came up just short of advancing to the NCAA Tournament, as well. Santiago opened the day at 133 pounds with a decisive 8-3 win over Johnson & Wales’ Justin Colon and followed up with a 6-2 victory over Wesleyan’s Maika Nagata. Santiago, then, faced Cortland’s Alec Dierna in the third-place match with the winner qualifying for the national tournament.
After a scoreless first period, Dierna deferred to Santiago at the beginning of the second with Santiago choosing bottom. He recorded an escape seven seconds into the stanza, but Dierna was credited for a takedown at the midway point. Dierna selected a neutral position to open the third with a 2-1 lead. He registered another takedown with 14 seconds left to go ahead 4-1. Santiago was credited with a penalty point at the end of the match, but Dierna also earned the riding time point for the 5-2 win.
The other Laker competing on Sunday was Abubakarr Sow (Fr., Brooklyn, N.Y.) at 141 pounds, but lost his consolation quarterfinal round after being pinned by Coast Guard’s Michael Giorgio with 41 seconds left in the second period.