CLEVELAND, Ohio — Fort Hays State University wrestler Brandon Ball competed this weekend in the NCAA Division II national championships, wrapping up the season with an All-American showing.
Ball was the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the 141-pound weight class entering the tournament. The junior earned a fourth-place finish en route to his second All-America honor as a Tiger; both honors at 141 pounds.
He began the second day of competition in the semifinal match against No. 4 ranked Isaiah Royal of Newberry College. The bout started with both wrestlers on their feet and stayed that way until Royal earned a takedown near the end of the period. Ball was able to maneuver himself out of the hold and cut the lead in half. Ball trailed Royal 2-1 after the opening frame. In the second period, Ball was on top and held Royal in his grasp for the whole period, earning 2:00 of riding time. As the third frame began, Ball was able to escape Royal's grasp in the opening seconds and held on to 1:57 of his riding time, tying the match 2-2. The bout was coming to a close before Royal earned another takedown, taking the lead back to 4-2. Ball escaped and was awarded one point for at least one minute of riding time, sending the bout to overtime with a score of 4-4. In the first overtime period, Royal earned a quick takedown to take the match, 6-4.
Ball fell to the back side of the 141-pound weight class bracket and earned a second match against No. ranked Joey Alessandro of Pitt-Johnstown in the consolation semifinals. Ball defeated Alessandro when the two met earlier in the season with a narrow 4-3 decision at the National Duals (Jan. 4) in Louisville, Ky. This bout featured the top two ranked individuals in their weight class, whereas the previous meeting Ball was No. 2 and Alessandro was No. 3 in the nation. This time, Ball earned a reversal in the second period and never looked back on his way to a 7-3 decision. Ball is now 3-0 against Alessandro in his collegiate career.
In the consolation championship, Ball faced off with No. 7 ranked Eduardo Penha of Colorado Mesa for the second time this season. Ball got the better of Penha in the first matchup as he earned a 6-2 decision at the Midwest Duals (Jan. 19) in Kearney, Neb. This time, however, Ball and Penha were locked in to a scoreless battle until the third period when Ball earned an escape early in the frame. Penha grabbed a takedown in the closing seconds and lead 2-1 before Ball, once again, earned a ride time point. Ball's second overtime match of the day was almost a carbon copy of the first OT match when he was taken down in 31 seconds, falling to Penha by a score of 4-2.
With this fourth-place finish, Ball became the 25th Tiger to become at least a two-time All-American after earning a sixth-place finish at the 2017 NCAA DII Championships as a redshirt-freshman. He now has a 115-21 overall record, a .846 winning percentage.