Sioux Falls, S.D. – The St. Cloud State University wrestling team (19-2) captured first place honors at the 2011 NCAA Division III Super Regional #3 on Sunday, Feb. 27. SCSU tallied 131.0 team points, which edged second place Augustana (120.0 points) – the defending regional champion.
SCSU head coach Steve Costanzo was named the Super Regional #3 Coach of the Year and sophomore Shamus O’Grady (Coon Rapids) was named the Super Regional #3 MVP for his first place finish at 174-pounds.
The Huskies gained the top spot thanks to three first place finishes at the Regional. SCSU’s first title was scored by junior Tad Merritt (Canby), who won the championship with a 4-2 decision over Gavin Nelson of Augustana in the title bout at 165-pounds. Merritt was the top seeded wrestler and was ranked #2 in the latest DII poll.
O’Grady added SCSU’s second title of the tournament with a 13-3 major decision over Minnesota State’s Ben Becker in the championship bout at 174-pounds. O’Grady entered the tournament as the #5 seed and advanced to the title match with a 10-7 decision over the nation’s #1 ranked wrestler Luke Rynish of UW-Parkside in the semi-finals.
The Huskies triple crown of champions was topped by sophomore Jake Kahnke (Shakopee/Prior Lake H.S.), who ended his run in the 285-pound bracket with a 6-4 victory over Matt Meuleners of Northern State in the title match. This match feature the nation’s top two ranked 285-pound wrestlers (#1 Kahnke and #2 Meuleners).
All three of the SCSU champions will now advance to the 2011 NCAA Division II championships, which will be held in Kearney, Neb. on March 11-12.
The trio will be joined at the NCAA championships by five other Huskies in 2011. This group includes junior Eric Ellington (Fairview Heights, Ill./East St. Louis H.S.) at 133-pounds, senior Gabe Suarez (Las Vegas, Nev./Cimarron H.S.) at 141-pounds, sophomore Jacob D. Horn (Ephrata, Wash.) at 149-pounds, senior John Sundgren (Blaine) at 157-pounds and junior Luke Munkelwitz (Forest Lake) at 197-pounds.
Ellington punched his ticket to nationals with a second place finish at 133-pounds. In the title match, Ellington lost a close 3-1 decision against UW-Parkside’s Cody Zimmerman. A transfer from Rend Lake C.C. this season, Ellington will be making his first trip to the NCAA nationals this winter.
At 141-pounds, Suarez gained his fourth consecutive trip to nationals with a third place finish at the regional. In the bout for third place, Suarez scored a big 4-3 decision against MSU Moorhead’s Brady Scheenberger. Of note, Suarez was ranked #8 in the latest DII poll and Scheenberger was ranked #3.
At 149-pounds, Horn lost a close 4-3 decision against Nate Herda of Augustana in the semi-finals before coming back to win the third place match by a 4-1 decision over Jesse Westphal of Minnesota State. This is Horn’s first NCAA bid.
At 157-pounds, Sundgren also earned his 4th trip to nationals with a second place finish at the regional. In the title match, Sundgren lost a tough 9-6 decision to Dillon Bera of UW-Parkside.
At 197-pounds, Munkelwitz gained his 3rd bid to nationals with a fourth place finish.
This marks the top finish at the regional for SCSU during the Costanzo era, as the Huskies have finished in second place in 2010 and 2009. SCSU will be looking forward to the upcoming NCAA championships with hopes of improving on the Huskies’ 7th place finish at the 2010 championships.