FAIRFAX, Va. — In the 44th and final Eastern Wrestling League Championships at George Mason University last weekend, the Clarion University Golden Eagles got a national qualifier.
Kane’s Evan DeLong, a 165-pound red-shirt senior, rebounded from a semifinal loss and won two consolation bouts to finish third.
He’ll head to the NCAA Division II Championships March 22-24 in Pittsburgh.
And Tuesday afternoon, the NCAA announced its list of at-large bids and for the second straight year Clarion is represented as Greg Bulsak earned one of five at-large spots at 197 pounds.
Bulsak was one of seven allocated wrestlers entering last week’s EWL Championships after an excellent regular season. The redshirt sophomore went 17-6 over the course of the season and was ranked 16th in the most recent NCAA coaches’ panel on March 1, as well as 23rd in the NCAA RPI on that same day. Surely his most significant achievement this season came at the Cliff Keen Invitational when he finished sixth in a loaded field, including a win over 13th-ranked and former DuBois Beavers standout Tom Sleigh of Virginia Tech.
Earlier last week, the Mid-American Conference announced that it was merging with the EWL, increasing the MAC’s membership from eight to 15 teams.
At George Mason after falling to eventual champion Chance Marsteller in the semifinal round, Delong’s chances to clinch an NCAA berth came down to taking third place and earning the third and final automatic qualifier.
After beating Cleveland State’s Ryan Ford in the consolation semifinal, Delong took on George Mason’s Colston DiBlasi in the third place match with a spot in the NCAA Championships on the line. Delong took DiBlasi down in the first period to take a 2-0 lead, but DiBlasi rode him out in the second period to keep it just a two-point gap. DiBlasi rode Delong long enough in the third period to get the riding point, but Delong stayed on the attack and held him off for a 3-1 decision.
Delong’s finish proved to be the highlight of the day, but the Golden Eagles had three other competitors finish in the top-four in their respective weight classes. Seth Koleno, Mike Bartolo and Taylor Cahill all reached their respective third-place matches, but lost and wound up fourth.
Brookville’s Gavin Park, the team’s entry at 125 pounds, injury defaulted in his opener. He went into the postseason at 2-13.
That puts a wrap on the season for the Golden Eagles, who were sixth in the team standings. They finished the dual schedule 7-7.
The team is still awaiting a decision this spring regarding medical red-shirt requests on two other former Brookville state champions in Brock Zacherl and Taylor Ortz. Both of their seasons ended with injuries earlier this year and they’ve petitioned the NCAA to grant them an extra year of eligibility. Zacherl was a red-shirt senior while Ortz is a red-shirts sophomore.