The pressure is now off West Virginia University’s Greg Jones. The senior became just the 39th wrestler in NCAA history to win three national titles with his 5-3 decision over Cornell’s Tyler Baier on Saturday evening at the 2005 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis.
In a tournament full of upsets, Jones was able to avoid that fate. And by winning in a decisive manner that included a technical fall and two major decisions, he was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrester. WVU's 184 pounder is the first Eastern Wrestling League grappler to earn that honor.
“Greg is more than deserving of the award,” said head coach Craig Turnbull. “He has dominated his weight class for the past two seasons. Greg has worked very hard to get to this point of his career. What he has done for our University, the league and the sport is somewhat immeasurable. I am very proud to have coached such a classy wrestler and even better person.”
In the finals Jones struck first with a takedown at the edge of the mat in the opening period for a 2-0 lead. Baier escaped for a point and then was warned for stalling to close the first period. Jones escaped in five seconds to begin the middle period for his third point and extended his lead to 5-1 on a double-leg takedown. Baier was cut from the defensive position to start the final stanza to make it 5-3. That’s where the bout ended.
"It feels good to get the third one done," said the four-time EWL champion. "When I put my singlet on tonight, I actually thought about it being my last time out. Each championship has been special but this one was a little different. I tried to enjoy the whole tournament while maintaining a certain focus."
Jones’ focus paid off as he improved his NCAA tournament career record to 17-2. He also became only the 20th wrestler in NCAA history to win multiple national titles at different weight classes. The Slickville, Pa., native won as a freshman at 174 pounds and added two more at 184 pounds in his final two seasons.
A crowd of 16,302 saluted Jones as he left the mat for the final time wearing the old Gold and Blue. Jones closed out his senior season going a perfect 25-0 while outscoring his opponents 298-82 on the year.
Jones, WVU’s all-time wins leader, finished his collegiate career with a 51-match win streak and back-to-back undefeated seasons. Jones was taken down just 10 times in 130 career matches while sporting a career record of 126-4.
“I haven’t thought a whole lot about it,” said Jones when asked about his legacy at WVU. “But I guess it’s time for me to move on. I have enjoyed every moment of being able to compete for West Virginia University. To think that my collegiate career is over, I don’t think it has really set in.”
The Hodge Trophy candidate became only the second three-time NCAA champion from the Eastern Wrestling League, joining Rick Bonomo of Bloomsburg who won three 118 pounds titles from 1985-1987.
West Virginia finished in 18th place in team standings with 34 points. Oklahoma State won its third consecutive team championship with 153 points behind five national champions. The Mountaineers finish marked the fourth straight Top 25 finish and seventh in the last eight seasons.
Jones and Oklahoma State heavyweight Steve Mocco were the only two wrestlers to finish the season undefeated.Jones' Road to the National Championship:
184: No. 1 Greg Jones (WVU) TECH Alex Camargo (Kent State), 23-8 6:37
184: No. 1 Greg Jones (WVU) MAJOR Joe Rovelli (Hofstra), 15-5
184: No. 1 Greg Jones (WVU) MAJOR Matt Pell (Missouri), 13-4
184: No. 1 Greg Jones (WVU) DEC. No. 5 Brian Glynn (Illinois), 5-2
184: No. 1 Greg Jones (WVU) DEC. No. 7 Tyler Baier (Cornell), 5-3NCAA Finals Championships Results
125: #5 Joe Dubuque, Indiana DEC #3 Kyle Ott, Illinois, 2-0
133: #1 Travis Lee, Cornell DEC #2 Shawn Bunch, Edinboro, 6-3
141: #2 Teyon Ware, Oklahoma DEC #1 Nate Gallick, Iowa State, 3-2
149: #1 Zack Esposito, Oklahoma State DEC Phillip Simpson, Army, 5-2
157: #2 Ryan Bertin, Michigan DEC #8 Joe Johnston, Iowa, 8-5
165: #3 Johny Hendricks, Oklahoma State DEC #4 Mark Perry, Iowa, 5-2
174: #1 Chris Pendleton, Oklahoma State DEC #2 Ben Askren, Missouri, 10-5
184: #1 Greg Jones, West Virginia DEC #7 Tyler Baier, Cornell, 5-3
197: #2 Jake Rosholt, Oklahoma State DEC #5 Sean Stender, Northern Iowa 5-4
285: #1 Steve Mocco, Oklahoma State DEC #2 Cole Konrad, Minnesota, 3-1, SV