Mike Denver of Bayville, a 2007 Central Regional graduate, pinned Mike Reilly of King's College, Pa., on Saturday night to win the 184-pound national championship at the NCAA Division III championships in LaCrosse, Wis.
Denver, a senior at The College of New Jersey, was named Most Dominant after he also pinned Alex Martocello of York College of Pennsylvania in 6:29 in the semifinals on Saturday morning.
Against Reilly, he fell behind early as Reilly scored a quick takedown, but late in the first period took control, with a takedown of his own that put him ahead 3-2. Off a restart, Denver escaped then scored a reversal as Reilly fell to the out-of-bounds line and suffered an ankle injury. Reilly finished out the match, but was unable to keep up as Denver scored the pin in 3:55
Denver, the first national champion for TCNJ since 2003, wrestled for Central from 2004 through 2007, and was a junior on the Central team that won the South Jersey Group III sectional championship in 2006. He placed third in Region VI but that was his highest individual finish, said Mike Bischoff, who coached him at Central.
At TCNJ, he is the winningest wrestler in school history with 143 victories. Denver has earned All-American status in Division III wrestling and is an academic All-American as well, Bischoff said. He was seventh at the nationals as a sophomore and finished sixth last year after suffering an injury in the national semifinals, Bischoff said.
Denver trailed Martocello after the York wrestler scored a takedown with about 1:15 left in the first period -- which unlike high school wrestling lasts three minutes. Denver escaped a short time later to narrow the gap at 2-1, then escaped just a few seconds into the start of the second period to tie it at 2-2.
With just under a minute left in the second period Denver scored a takedown to take a 4-2 lead. Denver was on offense to start the third period and after a scramble got Martocello with an ankle pick and twisted him onto his back, where he held him until the pin was calle