BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – Junior Zak Vargo (Stow, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) posted two "firsts" for the Lake Erie College wrestling team Friday (March 8) at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships at the Crossplex in Birmingham, reaching the semifinal round of his weight class in the process.
Competing at 157 pounds, Vargo became the first Storm wrestler in the three-year history of the program to win an opening round match at the national championships when he defeated sixth-ranked Jon Gappmaier (13-7) of Colorado Mesa University 7-0.
He then moved on to the final four of the weight class championship bracket with a first-period pin of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke's Justin Pencook (16-3) at 2:26. Pencook entered the tournament ranked fourth nationally at 157 pounds. It was Vargo's 29th victory of the season (29-8) and his ninth pin.
Vargo will face second-ranked Clinton Poster (36-3) of St. Cloud State University in the semifinals and is guaranteed no worse than a sixth-place finish, clinching Lake Erie's second All-American honor.
The Storm's other two national qualifiers did not fare as well, both bowing out of the tournament after two matches.
Sophomore Ian Ross (Newark, N.Y./Newark) was in a scoreless tie deep into the third period before a reversal and back points for eighth-ranked Mercyhurst University's Willie Bohince gave him a 4-0 win in the first round. Ross was then defeated by Eric Forde of St. Cloud State, ranked second nationally at 125, by major decision, 8-0.
At 174 pounds, sophomore Dylan Zivcic (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) fell to No. 5 Mike Williams (UNC-Pembroke) by major decision 11-3 in the first round and then dropped a tight 6-5 decision to Colorado State University-Pueblo's Ray Hall in the consolation bracket's first round.
Ross ends his season with a 20-20 overall record while Zivcic's season comes to a close at 21-16.
Action continues Saturday, March 9, beginning at 11 a.m. EST.