LEWISBURG, Pa. – Matt Fullowan wrapped up fifth place in the 174-pound bracket at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships to punch his ticket to the NCAA Division I National Championships in Philadelphia. Jake Bucha also secured fifth place at 133-pounds and may still qualify for the NCAA tourney via wild card entry. The EIWA was allotted five automatic qualifiers at 174 pounds and three at 133 this season.
The pair of fifth place finishes under first-year W. Roy Phillips '31 Wrestling Coach, Mike Rogers, marks the first time in 15 years F&M produced two placewinners at the EIWA championships. Brendan James and Greg Knox both placed fifth under the direction of Fran Presley in 1996. Fullowan (27-13) is F&M's first NCAA qualifier since Justin Herbert represented F&M as a wild card selection at the same weight in 2009. He is also the first to earn an automatic qualifier since Brendan James' second place finish at 150 pounds back in 1998.
"I am proud of the fight all of our wrestlers displayed this weekend," said Rogers. "We placed two wrestlers on the medal stand in what is regarded as the second toughest qualifying tournament in the nation."
Fullowan qualified by outlasting 2010 All-American Scott Giffin (Penn) in the fifth-place bout, 10-7. He sprawled hard on a Giffin shot, converting it into his takedown and a pair of near fall points a minute into the first. He rode out the final 1:57 of the period. After a scoreless second period, Fullowan opted to work from his feet in the final period. Giffin took advantage of the choice 24 seconds in, cutting the match to 4-2. Giffin worked a pair of takedowns in the third to get cut the deficit to 7-6 before Fullowan was hit with a second stall, knotting it at 7-7 with 19 seconds to wrestle. Fullowan scored an easy takedown on Giffin's desperation shot at the end, before cashing in on his riding point earned in the first for the three-point differential.
The junior fell in the consolation semifinals 3-1 in overtime. After trading escapes in the second and third, Caruso sidestepped Fullowan's overtime offense and slipped on top for the win.
Bucha (31-6) used four doubles and a riding point to dispatch Princeton's Tony Comunale in the fifth place bout. He controlled the match from whistle to whistle.
Army's Jordan Thome ended Bucha's bronze hopes. Bucha built a 4-2 lead in the second turning an ankle pick into a tilt for two back points. Thome escaped with 12 seconds in the period to cut it 4-3. Bucha worked from the bottom in the third. He was unable to get the escape, instead, he was turned for two back points from his tripod. He nearly worked a pin from the bottom late in the third, but Thome was able to roll through, slip in the half and get three more back points. Bucha dodged the pin over the final 20 seconds, but Thome avenged his 4-2 loss at this year's Navy Classic.
The victories made Bucha and Fullowan the Diplomats' best finishers since Mike Parziale took fifth at 157 back in 2005. If Bucha does not secure an NCAA bid, he will have wrapped up his career at 78-25, which leaves him eighth in career wins at F&M.
Franklin & Marshall finished the tournament in 12th place of the 13 teams. The Diplomats scored 20 points, making it the most productive EIWA tournament since 1998 when F&M accumluated 22.5 points. Cornell won the tournament, with Lehigh in second place.