UCF used its depth to overcome a disastrous start to the day, rallying past The Apprentice School in the placing rounds to claim the National Collegiate Wrestling Association title.

UCF did not have a wrestler in the finals Saturday at the Hampton University Convocation Center, but utilized two thirds and four fourth-place finishers among its eight All-American placers to win its first national title in five seasons. It was a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance for the Knights, who saw a 15.5-point lead over defending champion Apprentice evaporate in one session as UCF wrestlers went 0-for-8 in which all five semifinalists lost.

The Knights rallied with a perfect 6-for-6 sweep in their mid-day consolation rounds that guaranteed at least six top-four finishes. Christopher Hauser became a two-time All-American with a third-place finish at 174 pounds, and Richard Rippy also placed third for an All-American finish for a third straight season. Alexander Chiricosta (125), Steve DeAugustino (133), Michael Dominguez (235) and Daniel Rowe (285) took fourth.

“If the morning was Jekyll, then we definitely prefer the Hyde,” said long-time UCF coach Johnny Rouse.

The key to UCF’s rise came in the quarterfinals where it advanced six wrestlers into the semifinals.

Source: By Scott Farrell, National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) Staff