James Brundage faced a difficult task going into the 2012 Colonial Athletic Association Wrestling Championships. The Rider University red-shirt sophomore and Ossining graduate was unseeded in the 165-pound weight class. In order for him to qualify for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, he would have to finish among the top four in his weight class. However, the top four seeds were all ranked in the top 30, at 165 pounds, in the nation.
Because 165 was the hardest weight class in the conference, we were guaranteed four spots, said Brundage, the 2009 New York State Division I 160-pound champion. I knew that if I did what I had to do, which was wrestle well, I would qualify.
Brundage, who is 23-14, lost his first match, but wrestled back to finish fourth and earn a wild card to the Division I National Championships March 15 through 17 at the ScottTrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
The top four seeds in the 165-pound weight class were Joe Booth (Drexel), P.J. Gillespie (Hofstra), Matt Kaylor (Binghamton) and Tristan Warner (Old Dominion). Brundage explained that after the first four wrestlers were seeded, the remaining wrestlers were selected by blind draw. Had the remaining wrestlers been seeded, Brundage would have been the fifth seed. Unfortunately, Brundage drew the top-seeded Booth in the first round. Despite a loss, Brundage would not be denied. He would face Kaylor, who beat him 12-6 during the regular season, in a consolation wrestle. Brundage would register two takedowns in the third period of a 9-5 win.
He is a relentless wrestler... but I did not score when I had the chances, Brundage said. Forty-five minutes before the match I wrestled a simulated match with one of my coaches to be ready for him. I had to go in with the attitude that I was not going to lose or my season was over.
Brundage would face Booth again, this time in the consolation final with the Drexel wrestler winning.
Brundage is preparing for the National Championships and plans to draw on his first New York State High School Wrestling Championship to help himself.
In my sophomore year of high school I think I was a little intimidated by it and I didnt wrestle as well as I thought I should have, said Brundage of the 2007 state championships. I am excited about going to Nationals. It feels good. I have confidence in myself and I have to make sure I wrestle like I know I can wrestle. My goal is to be an all-American and someday be a National champ.
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