Utica grad Nick Mason capped off an outstanding junior season for Tiffin University by winning the NCAA Division II 197 lb championship over the weekend. Mason, who was ranked 6th in the country and seeded 3rd coming in, pinned his way into the finals (winning the Most Falls Award in the process). There he met previously unbeaten and top-ranked Vince Dietz of St. Cloud State, and came out with a 5-2 victory, claiming the national title.
In winning the DII nationals, Mason became the first Michigander to accomplish such a feat since Oak Park grad Corry Royal won the 177 pound title in 1997 for Nebraska-Omaha. Further, he was just the fourth finalist since Royal's title, joining Sean Turner (2015), Matt Vandermeer (2015) and Angelo Vettese (2005).
Ryan Vasbinder, now wrestling at McKendree after a strong prep career at Byron Center and Grandville, also placed in the 197 weight. Vasbinder went 3-2 on the weekend, placing 7th in the country. He has two years remaining with the Bearcats.
Elsewhere, in Division III, Alma turned in an impressive weekend as the Fighting Scots tied for 17th place in the team standings and both Brendan Ladd and Zack Cooper became All-Americans. Ladd was 7th at 141 and Cooper finished 5th at 149.
For Ladd it was the second straight All-American honor, as he placed 6th at the same weight last season. The junior went 3-2 on the tournament and ended his year with a 32-3 record.
Cooper's All-American run was an odd one for sure. Entering as the 2 seed, he dropped a first round bout via stalling when he had the lead. That dropped him into the consolation bracket where he first won by major and then had the number-one seed to place. Cooper locked up a cradle and put the match away in the first period to seal a top-eight finish. He would ultimately finish 5th, ending the year 36-3. It also marked the third different post-high school nationals that he has placed at, to go along with a pair of 3rd place finishes at NJCAA's in '14 and '15 and an NCWA title in '16.