No. 3 Ryan Flores became American University wrestling's second NCAA Finalist when he took to the mat Saturday night at the 2011 NCAA Championships but came up just short in his championship bid, falling 2-1 to No. 1 Zach Rey of Lehigh at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
Led by Flores and fellow All-Americans No. 2 Steve Fittery and No. 8 Ganbayar Sanjaa, the Eagles set a new program record with a fifth-place finish in the team standings. American earned a total of 65 points, just 5.5 points shy of Oklahoma State for fourth. Penn State won the team title while Cornell and Iowa finished second and third, respectively.
Head Coach Mark Cody was honored by the National Wrestling Coaches Association following the tournament, being named the 2011 National Coach of the Year. Along with earning the program's highest finish at the event, the Eagles also matched their program record with three All-Americans and set another program-best with six qualifiers.
Flores and Rey took a 0-0 tie into the second period where Rey got the upper hand with an escape for a 1-0 lead. Trailing by the same margin in the third period, Flores nearly went on top with a reversal but a stalemate was called with just 17 seconds remaining. Rey cut Flores on the ensuing restart and avoided a late takedown, taking the title with riding time advantage 2-1.
Flores's appearance in the finals was just the second in program history following Josh Glenn's 197 lbs. National Championship in 2007. This was Flores' third appearance at Nationals and first-ever All-America honor. He finished the season with a 26-6 record including 10 falls, two tech-falls, and three major decisions.
Fittery and Sanjaa closed out their run at the NCAA Championships earlier in the day by placing third and fourth, respectively. Fittery is now a two-time All-American and one of only four Eagles to earn multiple AA honors while Sanjaa finished on the podium in his first appearance at the event.
Fittery's career at American comes to a close with an overall record of 67-5, including 54 wins with bonus points. He ranks first in school history with 13 career tech-falls, second with 19 major decisions and is third with 22 falls, all accomplished while wrestling only two seasons at the school. Sanjaa, meanwhile, finished his first year at American with 26-8 record.
This marks the second straight year the Eagles have placed three on the podium and ties the team for the sixth most AA honors at this year's tournament. The Cody led Eagles have earned multiple AA honors in each of the last four years and boast 14 All-American's since 2005.
To check out all of the coverage from the NCAA Championships including video, photos and more, visit the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships Homepage.
149 - #8 Ganbayar Sanjaa
Sanjaa came out quickly in his consolation semifinal bout against 11th-seeded Andrew Nadhir of Northwestern, using a throw to take Nadhir down moments into the match. Sanjaa added two back points before the period was out and carried a 4-0 lead into the third. An escape by Nadhir moved the score to 4-1, but with riding time advantage Sanjaa pulled out the 5-1 decision. In the consolation finals versus Boise State's Jason Chamberlain, the sixth seed, Sanjaa dropped a 3-0 decision to finish his tounament in fourth place. The junior posted a record of 4-2 in his first appearance at Nationals, recording one fall en route to the first All-America honor of his career.
157 - #2 Steve Fittery
Fittery faced top-seeded Adam Hall of Boise State in his consolation semifinal match and avenged his loss to the Bronco from last year's tournament. The two went scoreless into the second period where Fittery took a 1-0 advantage with an escape. Fittery began the third on top and rode Hall out for the entire period, adding a three-point near fall as time wound down for a 5-0 victory. Fittery was even more impressive in the consolation finals, opening the same 5-0 margin in the first period over Iowa's Derek St. John, the sixth seed, with a takedown and near fall. He added an escape and takedown in the second for an 8-0 advantage and finished the match off with two more takedowns and riding time advantage for an 13-1 major decision. Fittery closed out his second appearance at Nationals with a 5-1 record, including one fall, two tech-falls and two major decisions to become an All-American for the second time in his career.
HWT – #3 Ryan Flores
Flores became just the second Eagle in program history to appear in the finals of the NCAA Championships but came up just short in his title bid, falling 2-1 to No. 1 Zach Rey of Lehigh. Flores and Rey took a 0-0 tie into the second period where Rey got the upper hand with an escape for a 1-0 lead. Trailing by the same margin in the third period, Flores nearly went on top with a reversal but the official whistled for a stalemate with just 17 seconds remaining after the junior was unable to gain control. Rey cut Flores on the ensuing restart and avoided a late takedown, taking the title with riding time advantage 2-1. The junior finished the tournament with a 4-1 record, including one fall and one major decision, earning All-America for the first time in his career.