Johnson's National Run Ends As All-American
Crimson Wave junior wrestler Eric Johnson competed in the second day of action at the 2012 NAIA National Wrestling Championships in Topeka, KS. Johnson came away with a 7th place finish at 197lbs to earn All-American status. This marked the second time Johnson finished on the awards podium as he was able to best last season's 8th place finish by one spot.
"It was a great feeling to be able bounce back from Regionals last week and be an All-American again," said Johnson. "I'm very thankful for all the help my coaches, family and teammates gave me to get me back here again, he added."
Eric began Saturday on the consolation side of the bracket with a matchup against 8th ranked Garrett Demers of Montana State-Northern. Despite starting off the match strong with the first takedown, he was not able to hold the lead very long. Demers ended the first period with an escape and a takedown of his own to go ahead 3-2. After extending his lead in the following two periods Demers ultimately won by decision 6-3. That loss moved Johnson into the 7th place match.
In his final bout of the day Johnson would battle 7th ranked Jahwon Akui from Lindsey Wilson College. He ended the season with an emphatic victory in which he dominated his opponent from the starting whistle. The final score was 16-1 to give Johnson the win by technical fall and a 7th place finish. He ended the tournament 3-2.
"I couldn't have been prouder of the way Eric wrestled this weekend," said Head Coach Ryan Rivera. "He just came in with the mentality that he was going to be the aggressor in each match and battle for every point."
Johnson Qualifies for NAIA National Wrestling Championships
The Crimson Wave wrestling team competed at the 2014 NAIA Eastern Regional Qualifier on Feb. 22nd in Atlanta, Georgia. Twenty schools from all over the country competed in the event. The fans packed in the bleachers to watch these young men compete for a chance to advance to the National Tournament in Topeka, Kansas in March.
Junior Eric Johnson, Highland IN, was the lone wrestler to advance to the NAIA National Championship tournament by qualifying at the event. This will be Johnson’s third trip to the NAIA National Championship.
Johnson began the day with a first round bye before then defeating West Virginia's Terry Nance by pin. In his next bout, Johnson faced Life University's Jacob Dempsey and lost a close contest 7-6. Johnson led most of the match but Dempsey scored a reversal and back points to steal the win late in the third period. Dempsey would go on to place third while Jonson was defeated in his next bout and eliminated from placing. After that, Johnson's bid for Nationals came down to a wild card spot determined by coaches of the region voting on it. The coaches considered Johnson's past experience at Nationals as well as his performance throughout the regular season which granted him one of the wildcards.
Johnson was surprised by the decision but was excited to continue wrestling. "I didn't expect it at all," said Johnson. "I'm just grateful for the opportunity and I want to make the most if it at Nationals."
Despite that excitement, Head Coach Ryan Rivera knows there is still a long way to go to make it back on the awards podium next week. "Eric is going to have a tough road ahead coming in as a wildcard, said Rivera.” He is going to have to rely on his past experiences there to get himself ready, but I know he is capable of competing with anyone in the country," added Rivera.
Johnson is now a 3 time national Qualifier, earning an 8th place finish in 2013. The National Championship will be held in Topeka, Kansas on March 7th and 8th.
Wrestling Heads to NAIA Regional Qualifier
The Crimson Wave wresting team is gearing up for the NAIA East Regional Qualifier this coming weekend which is held in Atlanta, Georgia. The event consists of twelve teams including five ranked in the top twenty. The top four qualifiers in each weight class will automatically qualify for nationals with a limited number of additional wildcard bids which are voted on by the coaches. CCSJ will have five wrestlers competing in this event that include: Eric Johnson, Anthony Hawkins, Scott Pitrowski, Tim Miller, and Gabe Mota.
Eric Johnson (Highland, IN) - After finishing last season in 8th on the awards podium as an NAIA All-American, Johnson will be looking to position himself to make another run with a high finish at this week’s Regional Qualifier. Johnson, a junior, has navigated a tough schedule this season and will enter the Regional with only 3 losses against NAIA competition. He will be competing at 197 lbs.
Anthony Hawkins (Crown Point, IN) - Hawkins has been an NAIA National Qualifier twice before and is hoping to cap his senior campaign with a return trip. Despite battling injuries much of the season, Hawkins brings an 8-7 record with him into the regional at the 125 lbs class.
Scott Pitrowski (Lowell, IL) – Pitrowski started off his freshman season hot with a third place finish in the team’s first tournament but has struggled with consistency since. Pitrwoski is a talented big man who has the potential to get things back on track this weekend. He will be wrestling at 285lbs and enters the tournament with a 5-11 record.
Gabe Mota (Hammond, IN), Tim Miller (Frankfort, IL) – Both Miller and Mota have seen limited action as back-ups for much of the season, however, both are anxious to take advantage of their opportunity this weekend. Miller will be competing at 197 lbs where he is 4-4 while Mota is 4-7 and set to compete at 285 lbs.
“Our team has been battling hard all season and they seem ready to step up to the challenge this weekend. We just have to stay mentally tough and take each match one at time,” said Coach Rivera.
This will be a great test for the men’s team this weekend as they begin their journey to Atlanta tomorrow morning. Check out the NAIA Wrestling Regional Qulifier Previer here
. You track the Wrestling Regional Results Here