Another year. Another school-record number of NCAA qualifiers from App State.
The field for next week’s NCAA Wrestling Championships was announced Tuesday, and the Mountaineers will send a whopping seven wrestlers to St. Louis, meaning 70 percent of their starting lineup qualified.
Highly ranked standouts Will Formato (165 pounds) and Thomas Flitz (174) received at-large berths in joining five Southern Conference champions who earned automatic berths: Codi Russell (125), Sean Carter (133), Anthony Brito (141), Jonathan Millner (149) and Cody Bond (157).
Coached by JohnMark Bentley, App State tied Arizona State and NC State for the Division I lead with five conference champions in 2021. By adding two at-large entries, the Mountaineers surpassed the previous school record of six NCAA qualifiers, a total that was set just last season.
App State is also again responsible for every NCAA qualifier who is a product of a North Carolina high school: Flitz (Piedmont), Millner (Ben L. Smith) and Brito (Heritage).
The seeds and brackets for this year’s NCAA Championships will be announced Wednesday at 6 p.m. during a selection show at NCAA.com. Competition in the Enterprise Center begins next Thursday, March 18, with a 10 a.m. session for five weights (125-157 pounds) and 1 p.m. session for the next five (174-285 pounds). ESPN3 is scheduled to have separate streams for every mat.
A breakdown of App State’s NCAA qualifiers:
125: Codi Russell, R-Sr., Atlanta, Ga.
SoCon champion at 125 pounds in his first year at that weight … Three-time NCAA qualifier (2019 and 2020 at 133 pounds) who won a match with a pin at the NCAAs in 2019 … Clinched automatic NCAA berth by winning an 11-4 decision against Campbell’s Zurich Storm in the SoCon final … Enters NCAAs with a 13-1 record … Ranked 18th in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings.
133: Sean Carter, So., North Babylon, N.Y.
SoCon champion at 133 pounds in his first year at that weight … Clinched automatic NCAA Championships berth as the SoCon’s No. 2 seed, using a takedown with 12 seconds left in the first period to move ahead in a 3-1 decision against top-seeded Jake Rotunda of The Citadel … Takes a 12-6 record to St. Louis … SoCon Freshman of the Year in 2020.
141: Anthony Brito, R-Jr., Wake Forest, N.C.
SoCon champion at 141 pounds in his first year as a starter … As a No. 2 seed, won a 7-3 decision in the SoCon final against Campbell’s Shannon Hanna after prevailing in overtime in the semifinal round … Takes a 14-3 record to St. Louis … Ranked 32nd in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings.
149: Jonathan Millner, R-Jr., Greensboro, N.C.
SoCon champion at 149 pounds and an automatic NCAA qualifier for the second straight season … Takes a 13-1 record to St. Louis … Qualified for the NCAAs with a 2-0 shutout of Campbell’s Joshua Heil in a showdown of top-15 wrestlers in the SoCon final … Ranked 14th in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings.
157: Cody Bond, R-Jr., Danielsville, Ga.
SoCon champion at 157 pounds as a first-year starter … Clinched automatic NCAA Championships berth by using an improbable four-point near fall to break a second-overtime tie in a 10-5 decision against Campbell’s Benjamin Barton … Takes a 13-4 record to St. Louis … Ranked 31st in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings.
165: Will Formato, R-So., Acworth, Ga.
SoCon Wrestler of the Year while going 8-0 in SoCon duals at 165 pounds … Third-place finisher at the SoCon Championships … No. 1 seed for the conference tournament in a weight class with four ranked wrestlers and went 1-1 against wrestlers from that grouping … Takes a 15-2 record to St. Louis … Ranked 16th in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings.
174: Thomas Flitz, R-Sr., Monroe, N.C.
SoCon runner-up at 174 pounds and an NCAA qualifier for the second straight season … Takes a 14-3 record to St. Louis … Qualified last year after winning a true second-place match following his appearance in the 2020 SoCon final … Ranked 13th in the latest NCAA Coaches Rankings.