Bison in the Brackets: the NCAA Championships

Barbara Bell and Lauren Whelan, Sports Editor and Assistant Sports Editor

Reaching the NCAA tournament: it’s every college athlete’s dream, the ultimate achievement and representation of success. A collection of over 1,200 schools, the National College Athletics Association, more commonly known as the NCAA, consists of three divisions. The majority of the University’s Division I athletic programs compete mostly in the Patriot League during the regular seasons, which is known for both its academic and athletic prestige.

At the end of each season, athletes compete with the goal of reaching the culminating tournament in their respective sports. The NCAA championships serve as tournaments in which athletes from all leagues compete against one another if the athletes have reached certain qualifications in their regular and post-season play.

This year, the Bison were represented in two NCAA Championship tournaments: Women’s Swimming and Diving and Wrestling. Emma Levendoski ’16 swam for the Bison in the 200 and 100 backstroke, while Tyler Smith ’18, Tom Sleigh ’18, Paul Petrov ’16, and Joe Stolfi ’16 all represented the Orange and Blue in the wrestling competition.


Emma Levendoski


Class Year: 2016

Position: Back/Sprint Free

Hometown: Mandeville, La.

High School: Mandeville


Levendoski swam a time of 1:56.04 in the 200-yard backstroke and finished in a 40th place tie in the 100 back during the NCAA Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center the weekend of March 20. The junior holds school records in both the 100 and 200 back.

Levendoski described her experience in the NCAAs this year as very different from the rest of the collegiate season. Over the course of her career she has developed relationships with and swam races against many different opponents and has come to be comfortable with their styles, strengths and weaknesses. Alternatively, she says, “racing the fastest college swimmers in the nation is pretty nerve-racking.” She admits that it was really awesome to be surrounded by such fast competition. Levendoski recalls that “walking into the locker room to see Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Pelton just hanging out was an unreal experience.”

FUN FACT: Levendoski is the first Bison swimmer, both male or female, to earn entrance to the NCAA since Hall of Famer Jim Harvey in 1988. She is also the first Orange and Blue female to compete at the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships.


Paul Petrov


Class Year: 2015

Position: 125 lbs.

Hometown: Cedar Lake, Ind. 

High School: Hanover Central


Petrov said that he went into NCAA competition March 19 at Scottrade Center in St. Louis with the mindset that “it’s just another tournament” because “you want to compete in it with the same mindset you had when you competed at any tournament during the season.” Although the competition field was slightly bigger because it included the top 33 wrestlers in the weight class, Petrov said that this year’s NCAAs were only different when it came to the media and atmosphere of the arena.

The wrestling team’s strong showing with four different competitors entering the NCAA tournament is a testament to a strong regular to postseason transition. In the postseason, Petrov said that the team shortened practices to only about 40 minutes, “so that we are fresh when competition comes around.” They were designed to be “short and very light in order to stay fresh.”

Petrov lost twice on March 19. “It was very disappointing because I did not reach my goals,” Petrov said, but “I knew what to expect in terms of media and atmosphere. So this time around, I was much more calm and I wasn’t nervous.”


Joe Stolfi


Class Year: 2016

Position: 285 lbs.

Hometown: Harleysville, Pa.

High School: Souderton


Joe Stolfi ‘15 represented the Orange and Blue, making it to the second round of the NCAA wrestling tournament before suffering an unfortunate injury. “I dislocated my shoulder in the round of 16 and had to injury default my way out,” he said. Prior to his medical forfeit, Stolfi earned a pin against JJ Everhard of South Dakota State, which advanced him to the second round, where he faced Spencer Myers of Maryland. After a last minute loss to Myers, Stolfi was forced to drop out of the consolation round of the tournament due to his injury. With one more year of eligibility despite being a senior, Stolfi finished the season with an impressive record of 37-8. “We improved significantly from last year to this year, and next year we have the potential to win the league and compete with the top teams in the nation,” he said.


FUN FACT: Stolfi holds the single season pin-record, earning 23 pins during the 2013-2014 season.

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