With less than two weeks to go before the NCAA wrestling championship tournament, Army, Navy, and Air Force found themselves in an unexpected situation: There is no tournament this year. That meant that teammates who had worked all year to reach collegiate wrestling’s highest peak suddenly found their seasons over. Seniors who had dedicated four years to their teams would not have the chance to put the singlet on one more time and compete for a national title.
With that in mind, I want to take one last chance to honor the seniors who are finishing their service academy careers. There are 26 young men across the three academies, and all of them will be mentioned below.
Air Force - Eight Seniors
Air Force did not have a season for the record books in 2019-2020, but that does not mean that the Falcons did not turn in some incredible performances. Randy Meneweather, starter at 165 lbs, ranked 10th in the NCAA in pins with 10 in just 21:03 total pin time. Meneweather battled his way through the season to a dominant 23-5 record and a number 3 seed at the Big 12 Championships. Unfortunately, an early tournament exit prevented Meneweather from securing a tournament berth. His dominant senior season was highlighted by a lightning fast ten second pin, capping off a career record of 53-28. Meneweather was also a beast at tournaments throughout the season, taking first place at the Cowboy Open, Mountaineer Invite, and All Academy Championships. Beyond wrestling, Randy Meneweather is a member of cadet squad 10 and his dream is to become a pilot.
While Meneweather had the strongest season of the Air Force senior class, he was joined by numerous other successful athletes. Marcus Amico finished his senior year with a 6-2 record in the 157-pound weight class with the majority of his appearances coming in invitational tournaments. He was also a bonus-point machine, notching three tech falls and two falls in his limited action in addition to placing first at the Western Colorado Open. Jake Kurzhals joined Amico at 157, and he earned his way to a 7-9 record in his senior season. Kurzhals was named a Big 12 Academic All American his junior year as he pursues a degree in aeronautical engineering.
Garrett O’Shea and Alec Opsal represented the Falcons at 141 and 149-pounds respectively in the 2019-2020 season. O’Shea finished the year with a 2-5 record and a career 9-4 dual record. Opsal ended his career with a 6-3 senior record that featured 4 pins. Opsal is the Charlie Flight Commander of cadet squadron 23 and his favorite quote is “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Matt Wagner, heavyweight; Jordan Wengreen, 184; and Tyler Wiederholt, 174; are the three remaining Air Force seniors. Wagner finished the year with a 7-4 record and a 1-0 dual record. He ends his time as a Falcon with a 28-26 record. Wengreen achieved a 14-6 record highlighted by 3 falls and 3 major decisions. Wiederholt also finished the year with a 14-7 record that featured eight bonus-point wins.
Army - Twelve Seniors
The Black Knights are the service academy that will bid farewell to the greatest number of seniors as well as the most starters. They will see Trey Chalifoux at 125, Cael McCormick at 165, Ben Harvey at 174, and Noah Stewart at 184 graduate and finish their wrestling careers. All four starters highlighted an incredible year for Army where they finished with a National Dual rank of 13 and qualified 7 wrestlers for the NCAA tournament in addition to finishing 7th at the Midlands Championship and beating Navy for the fourth year in a row.
Chalifoux ends his career as a Black Knight as a team captain with a 13-7 record on the year and a 67-48 overall record. His senior season featured a second place finish at the Black Knight Invite and a win over Navy’s Logan Treaster to cap a career that featured a 20 win season and a fifth place finish at this year’s EIWA tournament to send him back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.
The next starter to finish his Army career is Cael McCormick at 165 pounds. McCormick posted a dominant 18-4 record including going 7-2 in duals to contribute to his final career tally of 67-31. He was a master of close matches, with just one fall, but match after match McCormick got the job done. He placed first at the Black Knight Invite and Patriot Open and finished 4th at the EIWA tournament to punch his ticket back to the NCAA championship. One of his career achievements is the fastest pin by a Black Knight at the NCAA tournament.
The Black Knights will also lose Ben Harvey at 174, another cornerstone of the powerful lineup at the heavier classes. Harvey was a three time NCAA qualifier for Army, amassing a 92-41 career record with a 19-7 senior season. He highlighted his senior season with a 3rd place finish at the EIWA tournament and a 2nd place finish at the Patriot Open. Harvey’s season included wins over wrestlers from Michigan and Wisconsin and nine bonus-point victories. He has been a winning machine throughout his career, posting three seasons above 20 wins and one season over 30.
Here’s a reminder of what we’re missing out on with the tournament cancelled:
Noah Stewart will also wrap up his career at 184 pounds, ending his wrestling career with a 70-37 record and a 14-4 mark as a senior. He qualified for his second straight NCAA tournament and placed fourth at the EIWA tournament. Stewart also finished his dual career with a vital major decision over Navy’s Dean Caravela that helped the Black Knights secure their fourth win in a row over the Midshipmen.
While the Black Knights face the challenge of losing four starters, they will also lose a further eight wrestlers including team captain Lucas Weiland. Though Weiland saw reduced dual action with the emergence of Markus Hartman, he still finished the year at 11-5 with a 70-42 career tally. He came in second at the Black Knight Invite and featured a win over Penn State’s Bo Pipher. He finishes his career as a two-time NCAA qualifier and two-time fourth place finisher in the EIWA tournament.
Alex Hopkins is another Black Knight who will finish his career after a strong season with a 20-8 record. He saw limited dual action but he won the Patriot Open, placed second at the Black Knight Invite, 6th at the Bearcat Open and 8th at the Midlands Championships. Hopkins ends his career with a 63-37 record.
Army will also see Jack Buell complete his career with a 1-2 senior record that was cut short by injury. He finishes with a career record of 8-13 and he is majoring in Engineering Management. Noah Hanau is also ending his wrestling career with a 22-25 record with 3 wins in a row at the Bearcat Open.
A pair of 174 pound wrestlers, Luke Hodsden and Sam Williams are also graduating this year. Hodsden only saw action at the Shorty Hitchcock Invitational where he went 4-2 with three bonus-point wins to finish his career 23-18. Williams also saw no dual action, instead competing in the Princeton Open and Bearcat Open, coming in 6th and 4th respectively.
The final two Black Knights who will be hanging up their singlets are Jeremiah Imonode at 197 and David Russell at 165. Russell finished the year 0-6 and tallied a career mark of 2-12. Imonode completes his time at Army with a 48-27 record and a 12-7 mark on the year. His season is highlighted by a fifth place finish at the Princeton open and a pair of wins over Navy’s Riley Smith.
Navy - Six Seniors
The Midshipmen will lose a pair of major point winners in Spencer Carey at 174 and Jared Prince at 149. Jared Prince ends his season with an 8-2 record and his time at Navy with a 77-28 record including two falls and two tech falls this year. Prince went 3-1 in dual matches before catching fire in the EIWA championships en route to a third place finish. Prince also has the distinct honor of being a four-time NCAA qualifier through his career. His impact is overshadowed only by that of team captain Spencer Carey.
Carey has been a starter for Navy the past two seasons, achieving a 21-8 record in the 2019-2020 season in addition to his 25-16 record the year prior. Anyone who attended the Army-Navy match in Annapolis to witness Carey’s win over Army’s Ben Harvey can tell you that it was one of the loudest moments of the night. Carey has been an NCAA qualifier the past two seasons to cap off his 61-34 career record and he placed second at the Navy Classic, All Academy Championship, and EIWA Championships.
Beyond Carey and Price, Navy will also see Alex Benoit graduate at 185 lbs, Joshua Roetman at 285, Noah Sirianni at 125, and Mike Smith at 197. Benoit finished his career with a 22-15 record capped off by a 4-0 year at the ESU Open, where he placed first. Joshua Roetman saw no action this year, but he achieved a career record of 41-24 at 197 over the past three years. He reached the NCAA championship tournament last year in his first action as a starter. Noah Sirianni won three matches this year en route to placing sixth at the Franklin and Marshall Open including a win over teammate Caleb Kelly. Mike Smith finishes his career as a Midshipman with a 2-13 career record and only saw action at the Navy Classic and Franklin and Marshall Open. While Smith’s wrestling career may not have broken records, he has the distinct honor of having been elected as the president of the class of 2020.
Dear Seniors, Thank You
It’s hard to put into words how much a senior class means to the academy each year. Four years of experience and mentorship for younger teammates can make or break a Cadet’s or Midshipman’s experience. To have the season cut short just days before the national championship is a heartbreaking way to end a career, but the fact is that wrestling fans and service academy fans have loved to watch you compete and grow over the course of your careers.