With a last second takedown on Pacific University’s Ryan Jones, senior wrestler Andy Kazik qualified for the NCAA national tournamentKazik now owns a 36-0 record and will be Lawrence’s only representative at nationals in his third and final trip to the tournament. Ranked number one in the nation for the 184 lb. weight class, Kazik is seeded first out of 160 division three wrestlers.
Coach Dave Novickus is confident that Kazik will fare well. “If Andy wrestles like Andy Kazik, no one can stop him.”
This year’s tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at the First Union Arena in Scranton, PA, hosted by Kings College and Thiel College.
Lawrence took sixth place at the Great Lakes Regional last weekend with 72 points. Pacific University won the regional title with 128.5.
Kazik has always struggled at regionals. Though he pinned Augstana College’s Chad Krnac in 2:43 in the quarterfinal round, Kazik struggled in the semifinals, finally defeating Wheaton’s David Hirt 3-1 in overtime. Against Jones in the finals, Kazik trailed from the start, only to score a takedown in the final seconds to win 4-3 and take the title.
“I expected to be there [at nationals],” said Kazik. “Lots of people expected me to be there, especially my teammates, coaches, and my family.”
With 125 career wins, Kazik is ten victories shy of Lawrence’s career wins record. There are not enough matches left in the season for Kazik to eclipse Mike Hoskins ’98, who set the school mark of 135.
Last year Kazik went 5-1 in the national tournament, losing to Delaware College’s Andy Povenski in the final round. Povenski also qualified for nationals. To call their relationship a rivalry is an understatement, and Kazik welcomes this opportunity for a rematch.
“I’ll beat him in the final round,” he smirked. “That is, if he makes it.”