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Tommy Askey
Tommy Askey won three of his five matches at nationals.
photo courtesy of Appalachian State Athletics

Appalachian State Wrestling Fares Well at NCAA Championships

App State Wrestling set several program records at the 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships before falling one victory short of adding to its esteemed list of Division I All-Americans.

With four of their five NCAA qualifiers winning first-round matches, plus three of the four second-day competitors securing top-16 finishes at their respective weights, the Mountaineers had made record-breaking history by the time Friday night’s high-stakes session arrived at the T-Mobile Center.

Tommy Askey’s 3-1 start to the event left him as one of 12 wrestlers remaining in the 157-pound bracket, propelling him to a “Blood Round” showdown against eighth-seeded Nebraska standout Peyton Robb, a five-time NCAA qualifier. A win for the 19th-seeded Askey would be needed to secure a top-eight finish and All-America recognition, but Robb became an All-American for the third time via a 9-4 decision.

Capping a 25-win season, Askey delivered a second-period reversal to cut his deficit to 8-3 against Robb, who had takedowns early in the first and second periods.

Askey’s run to the Blood Round featured two wins against higher-ranked opponents and accounted for three of App State’s eight victories in Kansas City, as 21st-seeded Ethan Oakley (133 pounds) and 18th-seeded Cody Bond (149 pounds) won two matches apiece. Will Miller won his first-round match as the No. 16 seed at 165 pounds, and true freshman Tomas Brooker competed twice as the No. 33 seed at 184 pounds.

Askey won a 17-6 major decision 14th-seeded Cody Chittum from Iowa State before dropping into the consolation bracket with a loss to third-seeded Meyer Shapiro from Cornell on Thursday night.

On Friday, following wins that gave Oakley and Bond records of 2-1 in the event, Askey delivered a tiebreaking takedown with 1:03 remaining in a 4-1 victory against Cal Poly’s Legend Lamar.

Shortly after third-round consolation losses eliminated Oakley (who had opened the tournament with a dramatic win against a former All-American) and Bond (a seventh-year senior who had recorded his 80th career win earlier in the day before dropping an 8-7 decision to Stanford’s Jadan Abas), Askey won a 4-2 decision against 11th-seeded standout Brayton Lee, a sixth-year senior who was an All-American in 2021.

A takedown late in the first period allowed Askey to claim a 3-1 lead entering the second period. Escapes from Lee in the second and Askey in the third accounted for the other scoring.

Oakley had a first-period takedown against Lock Haven’s Gable Strickland in his first match Friday before sealing an 8-2 victory with a takedown in the closing seconds. He then lost 6-0 against 13th-seeded Kurt Phipps from Bucknell.

Bond followed an early takedown by Rutgers’ Michael Cetta in his Friday opener with a reversal and trailed 4-2 after one period. A second-period takedown gave him a 6-4 lead, and he was ahead 6-5 on the scoreboard (with riding time locked in) when he added a takedown in the closing seconds.

Facing Abas, a four-time NCAA qualifier and 2021 All-American, Bond gave up a takedown and two near-fall points to trail 5-1 after one period. An escape and takedown from Bond in the second period tied the match, with Bond riding out the final 1:05 of the period.

Instead of letting Bond start the third back on top, Abas chose neutral and finished a scramble with a takedown midway through the third period to move ahead 8-5. Bond scored single points on an escape and an Abas stall in the last 49 seconds, but he was just short on possessing enough riding time to earn another point.

In Miller’s 9-8 loss to Maxx Mayfield from Northwestern on Friday, two first-period takedowns gave Mayfield a 6-2 lead. Miller stormed back to take a 7-6 lead on a quick reversal early in the second period and a three-point near fall. Mayfield chose neutral instead of the bottom position to start the third — Miller had stayed on top for the last 1:47 of the second period — and recorded a go-ahead takedown with 1:03 remaining.

DAY 1 RECAP

Oakley, Bond, Askey and Miller all won first-round matches in exciting fashion before dropping Thursday night matches against opponents ranked No. 5, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 1 in the country.

App State’s most improbable qualifier, Brooker, dropped a 10-8 decision in a pigtail match Thursday morning at 184 pounds before losing by fall in his second match.

With App State’s four other qualifiers all making their second career NCAA appearances and looking for their first main-draw wins — Oakley won a pigtail match last year — the veterans went a combined 4-0 in Session 1, including three wins against higher-seeded opponents.

The Mountaineers’ four Session 1 wins set a record for the best opening-round performance in program history, topping the 3-2 mark from 2022.

Oakley delivered a tiebreaking takedown with 1:18 left in an 8-7 decision against Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona, a 12th-seeded senior and multi-time All-American, before Bond used a takedown and four near-fall points to lead 8-0 in the second period of an 11-4 decision against 15th-seeded Corbyn Munson from Central Michigan. Askey had five takedowns in his major decision against Chittum, and a second-period takedown provided separation for Miller in a 5-0 shutout of 17th-seeded Tyler Lillard from Indiana.

Oakley erased a 6-5 deficit on his takedown with 1:18 remaining and managed to stay on top until the closing seconds before finally giving up an escape (to avoid a stalling penalty) with three seconds remaining.

Oakley began the second period with a takedown to cut his deficit to 4-3, but Latona answered with a reversal to move ahead 6-3. An escape from there, plus an escape early in the third, put Oakley in position to claim control with a takedown.

The success on Thursday afternoon meant Round of 16 matchups with some of the nation’s highest-ranked wrestlers. Oakley did record a takedown in the third period of an 11-5 loss to fifth-seeded Michigan standout Dylan Ragusin.

Bond hung tough in a 4-2 loss to second-seeded Arizona State star Kyle Parco, a four-time All-American who recorded a first-period takedown, and Askey lost by tech fall (17-2 score) against Shapiro.

Top-seeded Keegan O’Toole, a two-time national champion from Missouri, remained unbeaten this season by recording a tech fall pin in the third period against Miller, who had a second-period reversal to score two of his points on the three-time All-American.

NCAA RESULTS

133: No. 21 Ethan Oakley (26-7)
W, Dec (8-7) vs. #12 Sam Latona, Virginia Tech
L, Dec (11-5) vs. #5 Dylan Ragusin, Michigan
W, Dec (8-2) vs. #27 Gable Strickland, Lock Haven
L, Dec (6-0) vs. #13 Kurt Phipps, Bucknell

149: No. 18 Cody Bond (24-6)
W, Dec (11-4) vs. #15 Corbyn Munson, Central Michigan
L, Dec (4-2) vs #2 Kyle Parco, Arizona State
W, Dec (10-5) vs. #33 Michael Cetta, Rutgers
L, Dec (8-7) vs. #26 Jadan Abas, Stanford

157: No. 19 Tommy Askey (22-5)
W, MD (17-6) vs. #14 Cody Chittum, Iowa State
L, TF (17-2) vs. #3 Meyer Shapiro, Cornell
W, Dec (4-1) vs. #29 Legend Lamar, Cal Poly
W, Dec (4-2) vs. #11 Brayton Lee, Indiana
L, Dec (9-4) vs. #8 Peyton Robb, Nebraska

165: No. 16 Will Miller (24-6)
W, Dec (5-0) vs. #17 Tyler Lillard, Indiana
L, Fall (5:58) vs. #1 Keegan O’Toole, Missouri
L, Dec (9-8) vs. #31 Maxx Mayfield, Northwestern

184: No. 33 Tomas Brooker (21-13)
L, Dec (10-8) vs. #32 Anthony D’Alesio, Long Island U. (pigtail match)
L, Fall (1:22) vs. #30 Malachi DuVall, George Mason