David Helfrich wins three in NCAA wrestling consolations

Sweet Home alum David Helfrich of Lehigh University won three matches in the 184-pound consolation bracket of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships held last week in Oklahoma City.

Helfrich, a junior, faced fifth-ranked Shane Webster of Oregon in the first round Thursday, losing 19-6. Webster went on to win the national championship, beating second-ranked Roger Kish of Minnesota 3-2 for the Ducks’ first individual national wrestling title since 1969.

In the consolation bracket, Helfrich pinned Mike Tamillow of Northwestern in 4:09 Thursday night, then pinned Ryan Halsey of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1:57. His tournament ended when he lost 6-2 to Kurt Backes of Iowa State.

Lehigh finished ninth in the team standings, with three wrestlers placing in the top eight to gain all-American status.

Helfrich won a state championship for the Huskies at 171 pounds in 2002 after placing second at 160 in 2001.

The Oklahoma City championships drew the second-largest crowd in history, said Sweet Home wrestling coach Steve Thorpe, who attended along with Huskies assistant coach Eric Tagle.

He said it was “very refreshing and motivating” to watch the tournament and he was delighted to watch Helfrich in action.

“David competed hard, he wrestled hard,” Thorpe said. “He was very disappointed that he lost. He felt he should have done better.”

Thorpe noted that Tamillow, of Northwestern, was the only wrestler who beat Oregon’s Webster this season.