ROANOKE, Va. — Adarios Jones’ hopes of winning the NCAA Division III wrestling title at heavyweight came up short Saturday night — barely.
Garrett Wesneski of Lycoming (Pa.) scored a takedown nine seconds into overtime to beat the Augustana junior and former state champion for Moline High School, 9-7 in the sudden-victory match.
Fighting back tears, Jones turned down an interview request after the final match of the two-day event at the Berglund Center.
“He put his heart and soul into it this year,” Augustana Coach Tony Willaert said. “We talked about that kid’s single (leg takedown move), but (Jones) didn’t get his hand down to protect himself from it.”
Jones scored the opening takedown, but Wesneski answered with an escape, a takedown and a penalty point for a technical violation and took a 4-3 lead into the second period.
Jones reclaimed the lead in the second and third periods, scoring takedowns on go-behinds in each period, but a final escape by Wesneski with 37 seconds left sent the match to overtime.
Jones rolled to a major decision Saturday afternoon to earn a berth in the evening's finals.
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Jones wrestled the type of match he enjoys, piling up five takedowns for a 14-2 win against Drew Kaper, the first All-American in the history of Otterbein (Ohio) wrestling. The victory set up the title tilt with Wesneski.
“Today's the day,” Jones said Saturday afternoon. “Today is the day I've waited for for a long time since I got injured last year. I wanted it my freshman year (when he placed third), but there's something about that injury last year that just built a hunger I didn't know I was capable of feeling.
"Ever since then I vowed that I'm not ever going to take this sport for granted. I started believing that after I was sick (battling cancer after high school), and then I kind of let it get away from me — 'I'm healthy; I can beat anything' — and then you never know what can happen the next day.
"My example I broke my ankle (last January) and ever since then I knew this moment — the finals — is what I live for.”
Jones, the second seed, scored several takedowns on go-behinds off shots by Kasper
“That's what happens when guys like to attack me. They don't bode too well,” Jones said. “It's like Dan Gable's old saying, 'I shoot, I score; you shoot, I score.' I live up to that.”
Jones weighed in at 241 pounds.