Senior Nate Rodriguez has won the second national championship in Maryville Saints wrestling history after rallying to defeat Darren Wynn of McKendree 6-5 in the 141 finals at the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
Rodriguez joins Matt Baker, who won the 197 national title in 2013, as Saints championship winners.
For the title, Rodriguez faced the defending champion in Wynn, who he had defeated four times this season. Rodriguez took the early 2-0 lead with a takedown in the first period. He chose the down position to start the second and tacked on another point with an escape for a 3-0 advantage. Wynn rallied with a late takedown in the second to cut Rodriguez’s margin to 3-2 entering the final period. Wynn took a 4-3 edge on a reversal but Rodriguez drew even 4-4 with just over a minute left on an escape. The duo battled down the stretch before Rodriguez surged ahead on a takedown with 26 seconds remaining. Wynn escaped to pull to within 6-5 but Rodriguez kept Wynn at bay for the thrilling comeback victory.
In the semifinals, Rodriguez faced Nick Crume of Indianapolis. Neither wrestler scored in the first, but Rodriguez took a 1-0 lead after an escape. In the third, he had a takedown with 1:01 left in the third and held on for a 3-0 decision to reach the finals.
Zeb Wahle began his day in the 184 class with two takedowns in a 4-2 victory. He then defeated Aero Amo by a 7-3 count to move into the third-place match. Wahle fell behind JaVaughn Perkins 2-0 but earned one point back with an escape. Starting down in the second period, he tied the match 2-2 with another escape. Perkins took bottom to start the third but Wahle turned around a small riding time deficit and rode Perkins out the duration of the final period to earn one point for riding time and the decisive point in a 3-2 win.
In his first match of the day at 149, James Krischke was narrowly edged out in a 4-3 decision. In the seventh-place match he used a strong second period and cruised to a 9-5 win to claim All-America honors.
The Saints finished in seventh place with 42 team points and had three All-Americans.
Watch our Facebook Live interview with Nate and Coach Denney: