Worcester, MA --- Zach Hartzell (Gettysburg, PA) became the first WPI wrestler in nearly a decade to qualify for the NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championships when he won three matches Sunday to fight through the consolation bracket and finish third at the Northeast Regional hosted by the Engineers.
The sophomore now advances to the national meet in two weeks which will be hosted by Cornell (IA) at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. The 174 pounder became the first WPI wrestler to qualify for the national since Joe Moskowitz earned the second of consecutive berths in 2004.
Hartzell was the only wrestler of 30 to earn a national spot (three in each of the 10 classes) despite losing his opening match on Saturday. After winning two consolation matches on Saturday, he found himself trailing 5-0 after the first period of his opening match Sunday against his opponent from Johnson & Wales. Hartzell picked up two points on a reversal before notching a pin at 4:35. In the consolation semifinal against a Wesleyan wrestler, he was down 5-3 after a period and 6-5 after the second but battled to tie it 8-8 before a 2-point near fall with 16 seconds remaining gave him the victory.
Facing a win-or-stay-home scenario in the consolation finals versus his opponent from Springfield, Hartzell escaped in the opening seconds of the third period and went on to 3-2 victory to send himself to Iowa.
WPI's other competitor on Sunday Tyler Tilbe (Woodbury, CT) bowed out when was defeated by an Oneonta State grappler 16-6 at 141 pounds. Trailing 2-0, Tilbe took a 4-2 lead with a reversal and a nearfall but a reversal and a nearfall by put the Red Dragon wrestler ahead for good.