Saint John’s wrestling competes at the NCAA West Regional at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium in Moorhead.
Saint John’s ended its dual schedule with a 25-16 loss to Division II Mary’s (N.D.) back on Feb. 10 in Sexton Arena. Each team won five bouts, though SJU (6-5 dual record) forfeited the match at 133 pounds. Mary (7-7 dual record) gained a 12-0 lead to start the dual thanks to a pin and the aforementioned forfeit before both teams split major decisions.
Freshman Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) registered the bonus-point win at 141 pounds, 16-6. Freshman Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) improved to 17-12 with a thrilling 5-4 win at 157 pounds thanks to a takedown in the closing seconds of the match.
SJU answered a Marauder pin at 165 pounds with three straight wins. Senior Teddy Erickson (Annandale, Minn.) moved his season record to 14-10 with an 11-5 win at 174 pounds, while junior Mike Wagner (Shakopee, Minn.) collected a 4-2 victory at 184. Sophomore Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) earned his 15th win of the season (15-8 record) with a 6-0 shutout at 197 pounds. Needing a pin to tie, senior Colin Fisher (Eagan, Minn.) suffered a tough 2-1 loss at heavyweight to end the dual.
HEADED TO MOORHEAD: The 10 Johnnies scheduled to wrestle Saturday in Moorhead are listed below.
125 – Freshman Anthony Hennen (10-21)
133 – Freshman Noah Becker (21-8)
141 – Freshman Andrew Smith (7-20)
149 – Senior Branden Schorr (10-14)
157 – Freshman Jerod Novak (17-12)
165 – Senior Teddy Erickson (14-10)
174 – Senior Glenn Castro (5-12)
184 – Sophomore Luke Dodd (15-8)
197 – Senior Robert Tait (10-3)
285 – Senior Colin Fisher (8-8)
TO PUNCH THE TICKET: The top three finishers in each weight class advance to the 2017 NCAA Division III Championships, which are scheduled for March 10-11 in La Crosse, Wis.
SJU’S REGIONAL HISTORY: SJU has qualified two or more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in 26 of the last 27 seasons.
THE WEST REGION: In addition to the Johnnies and No. 24 Cobbers, the NCAA West Region in wrestling includes No. 2 Augsburg, Concordia (Wis.), Lakeland (Wis.), the Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.), Pacific (Ore.), St. Olaf, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Wisconsin-Platteville.
LAST YEAR’S REGIONAL: SJU earned three national entrants and finished fifth out of 12 teams at last year’s NCAA West Regional on Feb. 27 (2016) at Augsburg’s Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis. The host Auggies won the tournament with 155.5 points, followed by Concordia-Moorhead (124), Wisconsin-Platteville (104), Wisconsin-Eau Claire (90) and SJU (78). The Johnnies placed six wrestlers and went 4-7 in matches decided by two points or less, including four one-point losses.
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Ben Henle ’16 earned his third consecutive trip to nationals with a regional title at 141 pounds. He started the day with a 7-2 decision and earned a trip to the title bout with a 3-1 win over Concordia-Moorhead’s Blane Tschida in the semifinal. Henle won the title when his opponent, Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Nathaniel Behnke, did not wrestle due to a medical forfeit.
Mike Pleski ’16 started his day with a pin before suffering a 4-3 overtime loss to the Cobbers’ Gabe Foltz, who was ranked as high as fifth nationally, at 133 pounds. Pleski battled back with a 3-1 win in the consolation semifinal and punched his ticket to nationals with a 16-5 major decision over Wisconsin-Platteville’s Scott Arneson in the third-place match.
Erickson cruised to the championship match at 165 pounds with a pair of wins, 5-0 and 5-3. He suffered a loss in the title bout, via pin, to Augsburg’s Eric Hensel, who is unranked though a returning All-American.
Senior Robert Tait (Faribault, Minn./Bethlehem Academy) just missed a trip to nationals with a fourth-place finish at 174 pounds. He lost his first match of the day, 10-8, but clawed back with a major decision and a wild 17-14 win over Augsburg’s Austin Boniface. The Cobbers’ Jake Johnson ended Tait’s run, and season, with a 7-4 decision in the third-place match.
Senior Glenn Castro (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Westlake) advanced to the quarterfinal at 184 pounds thanks to a first-round forfeit and suffered a close 3-1 loss to Augsburg’s Sebastian Larson. The consolation bracket was full of drama for Castro, who won his first bout in overtime (7-6) and lost his second, and an appearance in the third-place match, in overtime (3-2). He earned fifth place with a 20-8 major decision.
Like Castro, senior Branden Schorr (Mantorville, Minn./Kasson-Mantorville) just missed an appearance in the third-place match with a one-point loss in the consolation semifinal. He went 1-3 on the day and claimed sixth at 149 pounds.
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