ROANOKE, Va. -Sean Sax earned an upset over No. 3 seeded Stephen Maloney from Messiah to open the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships, but fell twice to end the freshman's season.
"Sean is a great kid and Mike and I are so proud of him," said Westminster Head Coach Tony Eierman. "He had a great team and great wrestling partners all year. He expected to win the national title this weekend and that's what we train them to believe. He is a great leader and teammate and we aren't disappointed in today one bit."
To open the day, Sax faced a tough challenge against No. 3 seeded Stephen Maloney of Messiah College, eventually earning the upset in a 6-2 decision.
"Sean wasn't taking no for an answer to start the day," said Eierman. "Getting the three seed to start the tournament is tough, but he didn't care and was just ready to go. He had a great game plan going into that round."
After his first-round upset, Sax took an eight-hour break before his next match of day day against Alex Wilson of Augsburg. Despite a close battle and a hard-fought third period by Sax, he eventually fell 4-3.
His third match of the day, just two hours after his second match, to stay alive in the bracket was against Ryan Snow of Brockport. After Brockport took an early lead, Sax earned several points in the final minutes to claw his way back into contention, but fell 11-8.
"It was harder for him going into this third match having just come off of a loss rather than having come off of a big upset," said Eierman.
Despite Sax's exit out of the tournament, Eierman said Sax's performance will be beneficial for the program as a whole.
"This is huge for the team and for recruiting, especially what the team has accomplished with such a young group this year," said Eierman. "We won two matches in regionals our first year, and this year we won 28. We're going to be saying the same thing about nationals next year, with one this year and more next year. Now these other teams have seen us and what we're about and they can see we are right there with them. This boosts our confidence as a whole."