Millner finishes as All-American, App State tallies eight NCAA tournament wins


Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics

Redshirt senior Jonathan Millner slams eighth-seeded Max Murin of Iowa in his 8-1 decision March 18, 2022.

Ben Brady, Reporter

For the second consecutive year, redshirt senior Jonathan Millner finished as an NCAA All-American, winning five matches at the 2022 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and finishing sixth. 

With Millner’s contributions, the Mountaineers finished with eight individual tournament wins and 13.5 team points, good for 28th overall in team standings in Detroit. 

“I’m really proud of JonJon and our guys that represented Appalachian State here,” head coach JohnMark Bentley said. “There are a lot of things to be proud of with App Nation seeing us compete on the big stage.”

Millner entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed in the 149-pound bracket, winning his opening round match with a 3-0 decision before dropping a 16-11 decision in his second match. In the consolation bracket, Millner won four straight matches to secure All-American honors before dropping a 9-4 decision in the consolation semifinal.

Millner joins Mark Free as the only two-time All-Americans in program history. Free accomplished the feat for the Mountaineers in 2002 and 2003. 

“We have all of the possibilities to have multiple All-Americans every year,” Millner said. “I’m just honored to represent my school.”

The Mountaineers traveled to Detroit with five tournament qualifiers, four of which advanced to the Round of 16.

Along with Millner, redshirt sophomore Caleb Smith, redshirt junior Will Formato and super senior Thomas Flitz each won their opening matches.

Millner celebrates his 9-4 decision over Arizona State’s Kyle Parco with his coaches March 18, 2022. (Courtesy of Andy McLean, App State Athletics)

In his first NCAA tournament appearance, No. 25 Smith at 125 pounds won an 8-5 decision against Minnesota’s No. 8 Patrick McKee, who finished third at the 2021 Championships. Smith fell 6-2 against another All-American, Virginia Tech’s Sam Latona, who finished sixth at last year’s tournament. Smith finished 1-2 after dropping a 6-4 decision in the consolation bracket. 

No. 20 Formato lost his opening match in the 165-pound bracket with an 8-3 decision but advanced in the consolation bracket due to a medical forfeit. He then dropped a 14-4 major decision to finish 1-2 in the tournament. 

No. 19 super senior Thomas Flitz at 174 pounds made up a 6-5 deficit with 13 seconds remaining in the match after a takedown and two near-fall points to secure a 9-6 victory. An NCAA qualifier for his third straight year, Flitz finishes his collegiate career with 84 victories. 

Super senior Codi Russell dropped his first two matches in the 133-pound bracket by decision. Russell qualified for his fourth NCAA tournament appearance and finished with 94 career victories. 

Since his arrival as head coach in 2009, Bentley has produced 50 NCAA qualifiers and four All-Americans, including Millner. He said the tenacious and intimidating reputation his program’s culture has established in his time at App State.

“Anybody that watches our wrestlers compete will tell you that our guys fight hard from the first whistle to the last,” Bentley said. “Nobody really wants to wrestle us, and I think that’s a positive compliment for our guys and our program.”