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WRESTLER COMPETES FOR NATIONAL TITLE

Old Dominion senior Jeff Rusak of Reading, Pa., will wrestle in the 2002 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Albany, N.Y., March 21-23. Rusak qualified for the tournament after capturing his second consecutive Colonial Athletic Association title at 174 pounds. He is undefeated (33-0) heading into the championship.

If Rusak wins the national title, he will be the first Old Dominion wrestler to do so in Division I. Three wrestlers -- Carl Ragland in 1969, Wayne Bright in 1970 and Terry Perdew in 1974 -- were national champions in Division II. In 1994, Jody Staylor made it to the Division I national final.

Rusak has a career record of 133-17 and will be making his fourth consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championship. He is undefeated against nationally-ranked opponents this year (6-0) and has captured tournament titles at Mat-Town U.S.A., the Virginia Intercollegiate Championships and the CAA Championships. Rusak is also a three-time CAA wrestler of the week selection this year and is ranked fourth nationally.

Overall, the Monarch wrestling squad finished eighth in the CAA. After struggling with injuries, ODU reeled off five straight wins to finish 6-9 during the regular season. Here is a look at how the Monarchs fared during the regular and post-season:

125-Sophomore John Starkes (Chesapeake, Va.) finished the season 19-13 and 1-2 in the CAA Championships.

133-Senior Paul Jimenez (Norfolk, Va.) finished his career at ODU with a 57-40 record and a CAA title back in 1999. He was 14-10 this season with a 1-2 record and one pin at the CAA's.

141-Sophomore Blake Romano (Boiling Springs, Pa.) bounced back from injuries to post a 11-9 record this season, 2-2 at the conference championship.

149-Freshman Casey Todd (Monroe, N.Y.) finished the season with a 11-19 record.

157-Junior Jesse Pearce (Norfolk, Va.) made it to the consolation semifinals at the CAA Championship, finishing 2-2. He season ended with a 19-11 record.

165-Junior Ben Summerlin (Lynchburg, Va.) finished with a 18-11 record with 10 pins. He was 2-2 at the CAA Championship.

184-Newcomer John Adams (Chesapeake, Va.) enjoyed a solid freshman campaign, finishing 12-12 overall after wrestling in three different weight classes (165,174,184).

197-Sophomore Greg Gill (Chesapeake, Va.) was 10-13 this season, 0-2 at the CAA's.

285-Sophomore Derrell Lorthridge (Wilmington, Del.) finished 1-2 at the conference championship to raise his season record to 20-13. Lorthridge has 42 wins in just two years of competition so far.

This article was posted on: March 21, 2002

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