Warren County grad Beckner places second in NCAA DIII wrestling championships

Zach Beckner

Former Warren County High School standout Zach Beckner saw his first collegiate wrestling season come to an end one win shy of an NCAA Division III national championship.

Beckner, a freshman at Ferrum College, reached the 125-pound championship final at the NCAA Division III Championships in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Saturday evening, where he fell to Messiah College senior Lucas Malmberg, 5-1. It was the second straight NCAA title for Malmberg, who appeared in the 125-pound championship bout at the Division III tournament in each of his four college seasons.

Beckner, who won a Southeast Wrestling Conference championship and an East Regional title since joining the Panthers in January, opened the national championship tournament on Friday morning with a 3-2 upset of Central College (Iowa) junior C.J. Pestano, the No. 2 seed and last year’s 125-pound national runner-up.

Beckner beat No. 7 Jonathan Haas (Brockport), 3-2, in the quarterfinal round Friday and topped Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Zac Denny, the No. 3 seed, 5-2 in the semifinal on Saturday morning to reach the 125-pound championship.

Beckner, a two-time Virginia High School League Group 3A state champion and Warren County’s all-time wins leader, went 15-1 in his first season with Ferrum. He had three pins, a tech fall and three major decisions among his 15 victories.

Wartburg College (Iowa) ran away with the NCAA Division III team championship, its 129.5 points being 50.5 better than the rest of the field.