CEDAR RAPIDS, Ia. – Former Clearfield Area High School wrestler Kyle Keane of Bradford knocked off defending champion Brett Hunter of Chadron (Neb.) State College in Friday night\’s quarterfinals to join four University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown teammates in the NCAA Division II Championships at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The East Regional champ, ranked No. 8 in the nation at 165 pounds in the latest NCAA D-II Wrestling Coaches Association poll, shut out North Regional fourth placer Thomas Anderson of St. Cloud (Minn.) State 6-0 in the first round before stunning Hunter 8-4 to move into the Saturday morning semifinals.
Keane (37-5), a four-time District 9 champ who won his first three titles for Bradford before transferring to Clearfield for the 2004-2005 season, wound up in one of the toughest brackets in the tournament.
Along with Hunter, 2007 runner-up Andy Pickar of Minnesota State-Manketo and 2007 fifth placer Blake Peterson of Truman (Mo.) State were in the upper half of the 165 bracket.
Only Pickar (21-3) has survived and will be Keane\’s opponent with a title bout berth on the line. The two met in the NWCA/Cliff Keane National Duals on Jan. 12, and Keane eked out a 1-0 upset over the then-No. 2 Pickar.
Pickar, now ranked No. 3, pinned East Region fourth placer Jacob Wilson of Shippensburg in 6:00 and then major decisioned Midwest Regional runner-up Peterson 9-1.
If Keane beats Pickar, he will meet another familiar opponent in the finals, for the other semifinal pits East runner-up J.J. Davis (33-5) of North Carolina-Pembroke against East third placer Hudson Harrison (33-8) of Mercyhurst.
Keane, a redshirt sophomore, toppled then No. 6 Harrison 11-8 in a Feb. 22 dual meet and defeated Davis 5-1 in the region title bout two weeks ago.
Davis had to get by two ranked foes, beating No. 6 Mitch Norton of Upper Iowa 7-5 before registering another of the tourney\’s stunners in the quarterfinals when he beat West Regional champ Zachary Lee of Western (Colo.) State 10-4. Lee opened the season ranked No. 3 behind Hunter and Pickar after placing sixth last year but was elevated to No. 1 in the latest poll.
Harrison also sidetracked a pair of ranked opponents, surprising No. 4 Andrew Denson of Nebraska-Omaha 13-6 and No. 5 Kyle Becker of Wisconsin-Parkside 6-4. Denson was the North runner-up and Becker the Midwest champ.
Unlike other national tourneys, D-II wrestlers are not seeded. Instead, they are seeded according to regional finish and then paired against another region, 1 vs 4, 2 vs 3, 3 vs 2, 4 vs 1.
Pitt-Johnstown\’s other semifinalists are No. 1-ranked Brandon Reasy (34-5) at 133 pounds, Shane Valko (27-13) at 141, No. 6 Albert Miles (36-7) at 171 and Mike Corcetti (34-8) at 184.
Former St. Marys Area High School standout Doug Surra of West Liberty (W.Va.) State remained in the wrestlebacks with an 8-3 victory over Joshua Falk of Findlay (Ohio) in the consolation second round after losing 1-0 to Kyle Evans of Central Oklahoma in the quarterfinals. The redshirt junior (30-5) pinned Gabriel Suarez of St. Cloud State in 2:56 in his opening bout.