ROANOKE, Va. – Collin Wickramaratna extended his unprecedented freshman season to the brink of All-America status, winning two consolation matches in the 125-pound bracket at the NCAA Championships before going down one match shy of a top-eight spot.
The Ursinus College wrestling standout defeated one of the top five grapplers in Division III to reach a winner-take-all battle with an All-America certificate on the line, but couldn't quite get over the hump as he dropped a 6-1 decision to Southern Maine's Peter Del Gallo.
Already the first Bears rookie to reach the national tournament since 2014 (and only the second since 2006), Wickramaratna's brilliant debut season ended with an overall record of 29-8, a regional runner-up, and a pair of NCAA championship victories.
Wickramaratna opened the tournament with a 6-2 defeat to seventh-seeded Brady Kyner of defending national champion Wartburg, who finished third at the Lower Midwest Regional. Kyner jumped on top with a quick first-period takedown and grabbed a 3-0 lead on an escape to start the second, but the Bears' rookie got within 3-2 by taking Kyner to the mat with 1:32 remaining in the frame. Kyner escaped right away for a 4-2 lead and tacked on two more points via a second stalling warning on Wickramaratna and riding time for the final margin.
That sent Wickramratna into the consolation bracket and a matchup with Dylan Nuttall of York (Pa.). Despite going against a senior who had competed in the NCAA championship a year ago, Wickramratna was the one to take control of a tight bout in crunch time. Down 4-2 late in the second, he scored a tying takedown with just six seconds left in the period. On bottom to start the third, Wickramaratna registered a reversal to grab the lead and never gave it back, adding a pair of near-fall points at the close to seal an 8-4 victory and remain alive into Friday night.
Wickramaratna drew a tough assignment for the evening session, which pitted him against fourth-seeded Dante Ginnetti of Baldwin Wallace. A two-time national qualifier and the Most Valuable Wrestler of the 2019 Central Region championship, Ginnetti seemed a favorite before the match, but Wickramaratna controlled the proceedings from the opening whistle. He took a 2-0 lead with a takedown in the closing seconds of the first and extended the margin to 5-0 with two near-fall points early in the third before corralling a 6-2 decision.
That brought about a high-stakes showdown with Del Gallo, who was only denied a berth in the semifinals by a sudden-victory setback to Augusburg's Victor Gliva. Wickramaratna took an early lead via a penalty on Del Gallo and trailed just 2-1 entering the third, but the sixth-seeded man from Southern Maine pulled away with an escape and a takedown.