Hilltoppers' Bunch Wins Midwest Classic Title

December 17, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. West Liberty University junior Darius Bunch capped a spectacular run through the Midwest Classic field here Sunday by winning the 133-pound championship and being named Most Outstanding Wrestler as the 39th annual event concluded its two-day run.

Bunch wasn't the only member of Coach Mitch Smith's rising Hilltopper squad to place at the prestigious tournament as sophomore Logan Kemp won two more matches on Sunday to finish seventh at 197 pounds.

Bunch didn't have an easy path to his title as the 133-pound division featured seven of the top 12 ranked wrestlers in the nation. Bunch earned his Most Outstanding Wrestler Award by beating three of them - including the nation's No. 1-ranked 133-pounder - on his way to the championship.

The junior transfer from Emmanuel (Ga.) College had advanced to the championship semifinals with a thrilling 4-2 sudden victory overtime decision against No. 6-ranked Hunter Haralson of Lindenwood on Saturday night, setting up a semifinal bout against No. 1-ranked Dustin Kirk, a returning All-American from King (Tenn.).

Bunch handed Kirk his first Division II loss of the season in impressive fashion, notching a fall just 19 seconds into the second period of their match before moving on to beat No. 9-ranked Airk Furseth of Wisconsin-Parkside, 8-6, in the championship match.

Kemp gave West Liberty multiple placers in the tournament for the first time in several years with a strong performance on Sunday.

The sophomore outlasted Elijah Seay of King, 5-4, in a consolation quarterfinal before coming out on the short end of a 3-2 heartbreaker against Luis Peguero in the consolation semifinal.

That sent Kemp into the 7th-Place match against Wisconsin-Parkside's James Lehman, the nation's No. 9-ranked 197-pounder. Kemp pitched a shutout against the nationally-ranked grappler, earning his 7th-Place finish with a 3-0 decision.

Wisconsin-Parkside won the team championship with 137 points with Ashland a distant second at 117.5. McKendree (112), Findlay (88) and Western State (86.5) rounded out the top five. West Liberty and Fort Hays State were tied for 17th in the 35-team field with 38 points.

The Hilltoppers will be idle until after the holidays. They return to action on Jan. 6 with a triangular against East Stroudsburg (Pa.) and Keystone (Pa.) College in La Plume, Pa.

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