Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

West Mifflin Grad in NCAA

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

West Mifflin Grad in NCAA

Article excerpt

It's not often that a wrestler has a move named after him, but that's the case with West Mifflin Area graduate James Fleming, a Clarion University senior.

"We refer to it as the 'Snapper Roll,'" Clarion coach Troy Letters said. "It's a side headlock in which James puts his opponent on his back. It's really hard to defense it. It's hard to stop."

As an 8-year-old wrestler, Fleming was nicknamed Snapper because of the way he attacked his opponents. His coach at the time was reminded of a snapping turtle's powerful jaws and gave Fleming the nickname.

"I try the move at least five times a match," said Fleming, who will make his fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament, which begins today at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. "It works practically every time."

In his four years at Clarion, Fleming has compiled a 122-18 career record with 38 pins and 19 technical falls. He ranks 10th in school history in career victories and could move as high as fourth with a good showing at the NCAA tournament.

"This is [Fleming's] final season and hopefully his masterpiece," Letters said. "He's proven himself at the national level. He can compete with anybody in his weight class. James is mentally and physically prepared to take it to the next step."

Fleming broke into Clarion's starting lineup as a 149-pound freshman. He posted a 28-8 record, which included two losses at the NCAA tourney. He moved up to 157 the following season and posted a 31-4 record, including a 1-2 mark at nationals.

Last season, Fleming earned All-American status by placing fifth in the country at 157 pounds. He posted a 6-2 record at nationals and finished the season with a 33-4 record.

"The NCAA tournament is like no other tournament," Fleming said. "The experience I've picked up at nationals the past three years gives me a lot of confidence going into this year's tournament. …

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