SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Top-ranked and undefeated Nick Becker of Wisconsin-Parkside used a quick succession of moves in the third period to pull away from All-American Blaze Shade en route to a 9-3 decision in the 174-pound national title match on Saturday evening at the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championships.
The setback put a cap on a magical season for Shade who finished his junior campaign with a 42-5 clip. The 42 victories ranks fourth all-time in program history, and is the most wins since three-time All-American Joe Stukes tallied 43 during the 1984-85 campaign. Becker finished his sophomore campaign with a perfect 45-0 record, including a 3-0 mark against Shade.
Shade’s run to the national title match helped the UNC Pembroke wrestling team rack up 20 team points and a share of 20th place out of 42 teams at the event. It is the seventh-straight season that the Braves have finished among the nation’s top 25 teams, including five-straight seasons under the direction of head coach Othello “O.T.” Johnson.
The Braves finished fifth among the NCAA Super Region 2 teams at the Championships. Wisconsin-Parkside finished sixth, Indianapolis was 13th, Ashland settled into the No. 14 spot and Newberry finished in 18th place.
Becker got on the board first via a takedown with 24 seconds left in the opening period, but Shade cut his deficit in half with an escape just four seconds into the second stanza. Becker had the choice in the third period, and strung together an escape, a takedown and a 2-point near fall less than a minute into the final period to pull away. Shade escaped moments later, but Becker all but sealed the win with another takedown 25 seconds later.
Shade used a takedown with 31 seconds left in the third period to grab a 3-1 lead in his semifinal matchup with eighth-ranked Calvin Ochs of Nebraska-Kearney. Shade was in control for much of the remainder of the contest, but Ochs registered an escape with one second left on the clock to provide the 3-2 final.
Shade eased past CSU-Pueblo’s Tarrence Williams in his opening match on Friday, and then toughed out a 2-1 overtime victory over second-ranked Zeb Wahle in the quarterfinals to clinch All-America status.