With more than 100 career wins under his belt, Brian Dempsey closed out his college wrestling career with a third-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Division III Championships at the Student Recreation Center.
The Lions’ 125-pound senior earned his third All-American honors to become the first three-time All-American in five years. Dempsey finished in fifth place last year and eighth in 2004.
“These are the best kids in the nation and fortunately I was able to come out on top,” Dempsey said.
In the consolation finals, the fifth-seeded Dempsey dominated sixth-seeded junior Nate Hansen of Luther College to an 11-4 victory. Dempsey finishes his career with a record of 113-37, while going 34-5 this season.
“I didn’t want to walk out with regrets,” Dempsey said. “I didn’t want to leave with something missing.”
On Friday, the Lions senior began the tournament with a 7-3 decision over sophomore Anthony Nicolicchia of Roger Williams University before falling 5-2 to fourth-seeded senior Terry Morgan of Loras College, which knocked him to the consolation bracket. Since that defeat, Dempsey overwhelmed the rest of the competition on his way to the consolation finals match. Dempsey secured All-American honors with a 5-1 victory against junior Rob Vaccaro of SUNY Brockport.
He opened Saturday’s competition against Cornell College’s sophomore Chris Heilman and won by fall in 4:36 after stretching out his lead to a 10-0 advantage. Freshman Felipe Queiroz was last in line in Dempsey’s path to the consolation finals, as the Wilkes University grappler was dominated en route to a 16-3 major decision loss to Dempsey.
“I’m extremely proud of Dempsey,” head coach David Icenhower said. “He had a great career for us with (more than) 100 wins.”
Dempsey showed that he has both brains and brawn as he was named a 2006 Division III National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-American.
Top-seeded junior Joey Galante began the competition with a 6-2 decision over Thiel College’s junior Michael Kemble at 157 pounds before he suffered back-to-back losses, spoiling his bid as a two-time All-American. The Lions junior fell 3-1 to junior Ross Needham from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse in sudden overtime, and then he lost 7-3 to senior Jad Duca of Ithaca College. Galante ended his season with a record of 27-5.
“I think the pressure got to his head; hopefully he’ll bounce back,” Icenhower said of Galante’s performance. Icenhower feels Galante has not shown his full potential.
Sophomore Jeff Harrington lost 6-2 to third-seeded sophomore Josh Chelf of Wisconsin LaCrosse at 174 pounds, sending him to the consolation round. Harrington faced senior David Kraus of Johns Hopkins University and recorded an 11-5 victory.
“I rebounded nicely and was able to use my moves and show takedowns I didn’t use in my first match,” Harrington said.
Unfortunately, Harrington’s All-American bid came to a close as he lost to junior Jonathan Dolan of Williams College 6-5 in the final seconds of the match. The Lions sophomore finished the season with a record of 19-6.
Senior Keith Bjorhus pulled out an upset victory at heavyweight over seventh-seeded senior Brett Christensen of Simpson College, 5-2. In the quarterfinals, the Lions senior fell to senior Ryan Allen of Wisconsin LaCrosse by the score of 14-7. Bjorhus was then knocked out of the tournament against fourth-seeded senior Michael Hayes from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point as he lost by fall at 6:53.
“In my final match, I gave it 100 percent and did all I could to win the match,” Bjorhus said. “The final result wasn’t what I hoped it to be.” Bjorhus finishes his honorable wrestling career with a record of 91-28 and a 21-3 mark this season.
The Lions finished the tournament with a team score of 19 points and continued their historic streak of finishing in the top 25 for 33 straight years – the only Division III team to accomplish that feat in the NCAA.