American Notches Two Top Finishes at NCAA Qualifier

MILLERSVILLE, Pa. -- Senior Marc Hoffer (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Central), ranked No. 16 in the nation at 149 lbs. by Intermat, and senior Willie Harris (Washington, D.C./DeMatha) each qualified for the NCAA Division I Championship Tournament for wrestling after winning their weight classes at the NCAA East Regional Tournament this weekend. American earned a fourth-place team finish at the event with 56.5 team points.

Hoffer, who leads the all-time career wins list at American with 122 wins, pinned Headley Murray of Howard at 4:55 in the semifinals. In the finals, he grappled Brad Cieleski of Slippery Rock to a 12-4 major decision to capture the weight-class win and automatic berth to the NCAA national championship tournament. Harris, competing at 125 lbs., defeated Reginald Torrence of Howard, 6-3, in the semifinals and grappled Kevin Gray of Duquesne in the finals to a 13-8 decision.

At 174 lbs., sophomore Aaron Baker (Amarillo, Tex./Tascosa) made it to the finals of the event before falling by a close 10-7 decision to Curtis Yeager of Millersville to finish in second place. He pinned Haneef Lumpkin of Delaware State at 5:38 in the semifinals.

Sophomore Jared Hyman (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) and freshman Kyle Mason (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg) also turned in strong performances at Millersville. At 184 lbs., Mason advanced to the semifinals after beating Sam Johnson of Delaware State by disqualification, then fell in the semifinals to Adam Schaaf of Millersville by a 11-3 major decision. In the consolation finals, Mason lost to John Opfar of Slippery Rock, 9-7. At heavyweight, in the consolation semifinals, Hyman defeated Mario Rinaldi of Delaware State by a 3-1 decision and then fell to Marc Allemang of Duquesne, 9-1, in the consolation finals.

Hoffer returns to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in his career at American University. He qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2001 and fell in the first round. In 1999, he advanced to the quarterfinals, the farthest an American wrestler has advanced in school history. Harris competes at the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2002.

The NCAA Division I Tournament will be held in Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, Mar. 21, through Saturday, Mar. 23.