The Ottumwa Courier

Sports

March 20, 2013

AREA SPORTS NOTEBOOK: Boyer finds way to elite stage

OTTUMWA — It wasn’t that long ago when Dimitri Boyer not only stood among the best wrestlers in the state, he stood above them.

In the three years that have passed since finishing his prep career at Eddyville-Blakesburg, now Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, with consecutive state championships, Boyer has learned just how tough it is to stand out among the best in NCAA Division III. As he proved last Friday in Cedar Rapids, Boyer is getting very close to returning to that elite level.

The former Rocket prep kingpin faced not one, but three ranked wrestlers in his first national championship apperance for Coe College. After beating seventh-seeded John Carroll grappler Terner Gott in his first national match, 2-1, Boyer fought hard but dropped two straight decisions during the Friday night second session of the NCAA DIII National Wrestling Championships.

Centenary’s second-ranked Chris Burdge, the eventual third-place finisher at 157 pounds, ended Boyer’s hopes of a national title this year with a 6-0 decision in the national quarterfinals. Sixth-ranked Reece Lefever of Wabash then kept Boyer from clinching All-American status by earning a 9-4 win in the third round of wrestlebacks.

“It was a tough road, but you have to win those big matches,” Boyer said. “I just couldn’t quite pull all of them out, but I’m happy that I wrestled as hard as I could and I still have next year to come back.”

Boyer received no favors from the NCAA, drawing the seventh-seeded Gott after finishing third at the Central regional tournament. But when his name was called for his first ever national tournament match, Boyer took a very confident approach with him out to Mat 3.

“He was supposed to be the seventh-best wrestler in the country at 157,” Boyer said. “I knew I had to be ready for a test.”

Boyer met the test head on, battling Gott to a stalemate in the opening three minutes. After being down to start the second period, Boyer made an important escape in just 24 seconds to grab an early lead while keeping Gott from storing up riding time.

With just 24 seconds to make up, Boyer caught and passed Gott by riding the seventh-ranked grappler for almost the entire third period. The former two-time state champ gave himself plenty of riding time for an extra point to be scored, making Gott’s late escape meaningless in a 2-1 win.

Match two got no easier with second-ranked Chris Burdge awaiting Friday night in the national quarterfinals on Boyer. Once again, Boyer held his own in the opening three minutes, battling through a scoreless first period again before being taken down.

Unlike earlier in the day, however, Boyer couldn’t find an answer as Burdge scored a third-period escape, takedown and earned enough riding time to move into the national semifinals.

“There were a couple of things I wished I could have changed (in that match),” Boyer said. “I look at this as a competitor. Everyone’s 0-0 coming into the national tournament. Everyone’s here to win the national title.”

Boyer came closer then the final score appeared in his do-or-die match with Lefever with All-American hopes on the line. A pair of takedowns helped give Lefever a 6-3 lead late in the match before Boyer escaped with 26 seconds left, giving the former Rocket one last chance to score one takedorn of his own for the honor.

Lefever instead caught Boyer coming in and rode out a 9-4 victory. The loss brought Boyer’s successful junior season to an end at 25-9.

“He’s worked really hard to be able to get to this level. It’s tough to make the transition from high school to college wrestling,” Coe head coach John Oostendorp said of Boyer “I’m proud of him for sticking with it. It meant a lot to him to come that close to being an All-American. I’m sure it’s going to motivate him to be back here next year.”

“I’ll be back. I have no doubt about that,” Boyer added. “I just have to use this to fuel to get back here next year.”

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