MOORHEAD, Minn. — Concordia will take a school-record six wrestlers to the NCAA National Meet on Mar. 11-12 in La Crosse, Wis. The Cobbers had five wrestlers earn berths to the national meet at the Great Lakes Regional on Feb. 26 and then a sixth was added as an alternate.
Concordia is one of seven schools in all of NCAA Division II to qualify at least six wrestlers for the national meet. The Cobber Sensational Six will be hoping to break last year’s record for highest finish at a national meet. CC used the strength of a national champion and two All-American to finish ninth as a team. Concordia is currently ranked seventh in the nation and has been ranked in the top 10 of the Brute-Adidas NWCA national rankings the entire season. The Cobbers finished the year with an 11-2 record in dual meets and posted wins over defending national champion Augsburg and No.6-ranked St. John’s.
Defending national champion Phil Moenkedick and returning All-American Justin Berns lead Concordia’s crew to the national meet. The other four wrestlers are all NCAA Meet first-timers. Ben Presler, Daron Hohbenin, Nathan Schmitz and Tom Boressa will all be making their first appearance at a national meet and will all be hoping to follow the footsteps of teammate Ross Dankers who stepped forward in his first NCAA Meet appearance last year and went on to earn All-American honors.
Moenkedick will cap his storied career in La Crosse. The defending national champion, and current No.1 seed, in the 184-lb weight class is 31-1 on the year season and has won 29 straight matches after losing to Kevin Steinhaus of the University of Minnesota in the opening invite of the season. Steinhaus is currently ranked No.8 in Division I, is 28-8 on the year and will be competing in the NCAA Division I National Meet. Moenkedick is 130-10 for his career and is the school’s all-time leader in wins.
Berns will also be competing in his final meet in La Crosse. The returning All-American, Berns made the jump from 149 last year and is currently seeded fifth in 157 this season. Berns is 26-4 on the year and has won 14 of his last 15 matches with his only loss coming at the hands of No.2-ranked Orlando Ponce of Augsburg. Berns is 129-27 for his career, and like Monekedick, broke the school record for most career wins this season.
Presler, who is the No.6 seed at 125, is one of the biggest turnaround stories for the Cobbers in 2011. Last year he was 9-17 on the year and was 15-29 in his first two seasons at Concordia. Presler continued to struggle in the early part of this season in the 125-lb weight class, going 5-9 midway through the North Central Invite on Dec. 11. Presler then won his final two matches of the meet and proceeded to go on a tear. He has gone 16-3 since then and finished second at the Great Lakes Regional. Presler entered the national rankings on Jan. 24 and went on to post a big win over Josh Roberts of Augsburg who was ranked fifth in the country at the time.
Like Presler, Hohbein has clicked in the latter half of 2011. Hohbein was injured through most of November and into December. He finally came around in January and started to find his legs since the NWCA national Duals Meet on Jan. 9. Hohbein was 2-3 in his first five matches but since the middle of January has posted a record of 11-2. He was the runner-up at 133 in the Great Lakes Regional and, like Presler, jumped into the national rankings on Jan. 24. He was ranked 10th in the final Brute –Adidas NWCA individual rankings poll.
Schmitz has had a breakout year in his sophomore season at 197. He finished third at the Great Lakes Regional but earned one of the at-large bids into the national meet. Schmitz is 24-8 on the season and 55-20 in his first two collegiate seasons. He is 11-1 in his last 12 matches and 16-3 in his last 19.
The other Cobber sophomore to break through to the national meet is Tom Bouressa. Bouressa has steadily improved throughout the season at 285 and heads into the NCAA Meet with a 23-6 record. He was 16-1 in his final 17 bouts before the Great Lakes Regional Meet and then went 3-2 at the regionals and made it to the championship match before placing third. Bouressa was an alternate after the regionals and then earned a spot at the national meet after another wrestler had to drop out due to an injury.