Burns triumphs at 197 at NCAA East Regionals; Wrestling Finishes Fourth

MILLERSVILLE, Pa.-Parker Burns was crowned individual champion in the 197 pound weight class and three other Camels placed in Saturday's NCAA East Regional Championships in Pucillo Gymnasium on the campus of Millersville University.

Duquesne University, Gardner-Webb University, Liberty University, and Millersville University also competed in Saturday's tournament.

Burns advanced past Millersville's Brent Barr with a technical fall in the first round, won a 7-4 decision over Gardner-Webb's Travis Porter, and triumphed in a 7-1 decision in the championship match over Duquesne's Justin Buchanan. Burns, a junior from Everett, Wa., improved on his second place finish in 2009.

With the victory, Burns qualified for the 2010 NCAA National Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Neb., March 18-20. He becomes the first Camel to qualify for the event since Lantz Nixon accomplished the feat in 2002.

"It feels amazing right now," said Burns. "It's always been my goal to get to nationals. Now instead of just getting to see the East Coast schools, I'll be at elbows with some of the best wrestlers in the nation. It's something that I'm really looking forward to."

Head coach Billy Greene was proud of Burns' achievement.

"Without a doubt this is the highlight of Parker's career," said Greene. "It's a wonderful opportunity for him to go to Omaha and get to represent Campbell University at the national level. We're very proud of him."

In the 125 pound weight class, CJ Gittens lost his first match 6-5 to Liberty's Jonathan Childress, but rebounded to claim a third place finish by pinning Millersville's Matthew Devestine in 41 seconds and winning a 13-2 major decision over Duquesne's Cory Kiser.

Senior Richie Apolinar won a 12-4 major decision against Duquesne's Jake Swink in the 133 pound weight class, but lost a 13-1 major decision in the championship and settled for a second place finish.

Kelin Bidelspach won a 6-1 decision over Gardner-Webb's Richie Spicel to advance to the championship, but fell to Liberty's Scott Clymer and finished second at the 141 spot.

Billy Heemer, Jake Fose, Chris Mazzatta,John Merickel, and Derek Tomasone also competed for Campbell Saturday.

Campbell finished fourth overall in the team standings, as Liberty won their fourth consecutive overall team title at the event.

Millersville's Jarrett Hostetter (157 pounds) was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler, while Liberty Jesse Castro was named NCAA East Regional Coach of the year.