Mango, Lester brothers will be local wrestlers competing in NCAA Tournament
By: Warren Mayes
Eureka twin brothers Nick and Matt Lester and Whitfield graduate Ryan Mango are three local matmen will be competing this week at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Mango, who wrestles for Stanford, is in the 125-pound weight class and he is seeded eighth. It will be Mango’s third consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament. Mango will be looking for his second All-America accolades after finishing sixth in the 2011 event in Philadelphia.
The 5-foot-7 Nick Lester wrestles at 149 pounds and 5-8 Matt Lester competes at 157 pounds for the Oklahoma Sooners. The Lester brothers are both red-shirt sophomores.
The NCAA Wrestling Championships at Scottrade Center will be held Thursday (March 15) through Saturday (March 17). All-session tickets and a very limited number of Session 6 floor tickets remain available. Fans may purchase seats at the Scottrade Center box office or online at www.ncaa.com/tickets.
For the first time since 2009, the championships are back in the Gateway City – a favorite destination for fans and the competing universities. St. Louis previously hosted the event in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009. For this year’s tournament, nearly 18,000 all-session tickets are sold, with just a few remaining on sale. St. Louis is on pace to break the event’s all-time total attendance record (104,260) set last year in Philadelphia.
The NCAA Wrestling Championships feature 330 competing student-athletes representing 70 universities. There will be 640 matches taking place over six sessions and three days. Compare that to three games at a Final Four! By Saturday night, 10 individual national champions and one team title will be crowned.
The three local grapplers would like to have the opportunity to be wrestling Saturday evening.
Nick Lester (20-10) will go against Michigan State’s Dan Osterman, who is 25-15, in a first-round match. Matt Lester (20-9) meets Tommy Churchard, of Purdue, in his first-round match. Churchard is 18-18 this year.
Mango (25-5) will wrestle fifth-seeded Nicholas Bedelyon, of Kentucky, in his first-round match. Bedelyon is 29-4 this season.
Mango, a junior, claimed a Pacific 12 title for the Cardinal in the league tournament to automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Mango secured his first career conference title with a fall over Arizona State’s Dalton Miller in 6 minutes, 7 seconds and a 14-3 major decision win over second-seeded Pat Rollins of Oregon State. The junior had previously finished third (2010) and fourth (2011) at the conference tournament.
Mango has had a solid career at Stanford. As a sophomore, he compiled a 26-7 overall record and an 11-1 mark in duals. As a freshman, he finished with a 25-15 overall record.
A 2009 graduate of Whitfield, Mango was a four-year letter winner in wrestling. He also earned two letters in soccer. He captained his wrestling team as a junior and senior. The team placed second at the Missouri state championships his sophomore season before winning back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009. Mango went undefeated his junior and senior season, posting a perfect 95-0 record.
Matt Lester wrestled as an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament last year. He went 1-2 in his first tournament experience. He completed the year with a 19-9 overall record.
Matt Lester racked up a 56-0 record his senior season at Eureka. He was a two-time Missouri high school state champion. He was crowned champion at the Junior NHSCA Championships as a junior.
Nick Lester recorded a 5-1 mark as a freshman for the Sooners. He did not qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
He was a four-year letterman at Eureka. He was crowned Missouri state champion his junior and senior years. He placed third at state his freshman season and second his sophomore year. He won the silver medal at Junior High School Nationals.
Here are the competition times: Session 1 begins at 11 a.m. Thursday. Session 2 starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Session 3 gets under way at 10 a.m. Friday. Session 4 starts at 6 p.m. Friday. Session 5 begins at 10 a.m. Saturday. Session 6 begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The Parade of All-Americans starts at 6:05 p.m.
For more information on the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and the complete listing of events, visit www.ncaa.com/wrestling.