Sparkman to compete at nationals

Redshirt+freshman+Casey+Sparkman+looks+toward+the+clock+during+his+match+against+Justin+Oliver+of+CMU+in+the+MACC+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+14%2C+2016.+Sparkman+won+4-2.+Kent+beat+CMU+18-17.

Redshirt freshman Casey Sparkman looks toward the clock during his match against Justin Oliver of CMU in the MACC on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. Sparkman won 4-2. Kent beat CMU 18-17.

Samantha Ross

Casey Sparkman came up one spot short of an automatic bid at the Mid-American Conference Tournament, but received an at large bid to wrestle at the national tournament.

Sparkman took third place at the MAC Tournament after defeating Zachary Carson of Eastern Michigan University 9-7.

Sparkman wrestled for true second, but lost to Central Michigan University’s Colin Heffernan.

Sparkman said that he wasn’t sure if he was going to get an at-large bid after he lost the spot for true second.

“I didn’t think that they would only take two in my weight class,” Sparkman said, “especially since I’ve had a really good season. I didn’t think I was going to go in because the two that I lost, I lost pretty badly.”

The NCAA decides on the amount of spots for each weight class based on each wrestler’s division I winning percentage at that weight class, rating percentage index (RPI) and coaches’ rankings. At-large bids are based on head-to-head competition, quality wins, coaches’ rankings, results against common components, RPI, qualifying event placement and winning percentage.

Sparkman said it was the plan all year to go to nationals, and now he feels great and is ready to wrestle. 

Sparkman’s record this year is 25-12 overall, 8-6 in duals and 4-3 in the MAC. 

“We did a little research and we kind of figured he should be going,” Head Coach Jim Andrassy said. “I think he deserved it. He earned it through the year.”

Sparkman said that he’s not trying to change anything in his training because he’s been wrestling so well lately.

“Sparkman has been training by himself because he has class during our practice times, so coaches get in there at different times with him,” Andrassy said. “The only difference now is we’re focusing on those two guys.”

Sparkman said he missed the team aspect of training when he trains alone. 

“I would say that I’ve gotten drastically better wrestling with Danny, assistant coach, and Hill, assistant head coach,” Sparkman said. “It’s helped me personally probably more than it would have helped some other people.”

Sparkman will be wrestling Virginia Tech’s Sal Mastriani (16-6 overall) in the first round.

The national championships will be held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri on March 16-18.

Samantha Ross is the wrestling reporter, contact her at [email protected]