Fittery claims EIWA title, NCAAs next for top ranked senior
Cocalico graduate and American University senior Steve Fittery was one of three American wrestlers to earn individual titles at the 107th EIWA Championships Sunday in Lewisburg. Fittery defeated second-seeded Bryce Saddoris of Navy 6-1 for the first EIWA title of his career in the 157-pound finals. The senior scored a takedown late in the first period and tacked on two back points for a 4-0 lead and was ahead 4-1 heading into the third. Fittery moved the score to 5-1 with an escape in the final period and held riding-time advantage for the final margin. Fittery has placed twice at the EIWA s after taking third last year. With the championship, Fittery (28-0), who has been the top ranked 157 pounder in the nation for 15 consecutive weeks, received an automatic bid into next week s NCAA Tournament to be held Mar. 17-19 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Man, it feels great to be an EIWA champion, Fittery told AUeagles.com following his championship win on Sunday. It s just exciting. It s fun to wrestle. I love it.
Steve Fittery was joined on the podium by teammates Ryan Flores and Matt Mariacher, who also won titles. A total of six American wrestlers punched their NCAA tickets Sunday. In addition to Fittery, Flores and Mariacher, Daniel Mitchell, Ganbayar Sanjaa and Patrick Graham also advanced. Our team works hard, Fittery told AUeagles.com. We have six guys going to Nationals, six awesome guys, and not only are they good wrestlers but they are good in the classroom as well. They are just good people in general and that s what I love about our team. It s not all about wrestling. It s about becoming better men, and these six guys exemplify that. I m excited for us six to go out and see what we can do at Nationals.
Fittery was dominant in his opening bout against James Rafferty from Army, taking an 8-1 lead after the first period with two takedowns and two sets of back points. He improved his standing to 14-1 after the second and led 17-1 in the third before pinning Rafferty to the mat at the 5:39 mark. The senior returned in the second round against Lehigh s Sean Bilodeau, the eighth seed, and held a commanding 6-1 lead after the second period. Fittery added an escape and two takedowns in the third, and with riding time advantage won by major decision, 12-3. Fittery then earned a place in the finals with a 3-0 victory over Rutger s Daryl Cocozzo, the tournament s fourth seed. Fittery scored first with a reversal in the second and added riding time advantage for the final margin. American finished the team race in fourth place, adding one more program record to the list. The Eagles earned a total of 106 points while Cornell took home the team crown with 173.5. Lehigh placed second with 119 points and Rutgers third with 116.5. The Eagles placed fifth at last year s tournament to set the previous mark. At the conclusion of the tournament American was presented with the EIWA Sportsmanship Award, recognizing the team for exhibiting great character throughout the two-day event. The award, which American also won in 2007, is voted on and presented by the officials working the tournament. The complete 2011 NCAA Championship bracket, including 48 at-large qualifiers, will be announced Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com. More FITTERY, page B-2