FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Sixth-ranked Saint John’s finished fourth out of 16 teams at the two-day Citrus Invitational on Friday, Dec. 30, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
A pair of Johnnies, senior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) and junior Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg), won their respective weight classes.
Six Johnnies entered the final day of competition Friday in the semifinals and eight others remained alive in the consolation brackets (out of 25 SJU wrestlers).
Upper Iowa won the tournament with 159 points, followed by Augsburg (149.5), Cornell of Iowa (124.5) and SJU (115.5).
Baxter, the top-seed and second-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds, cruised through his first three matches via 17-2 technical fall, first-period pin (1:13) and a medical default. He tallied a close 3-2 decision over Alex Coolidge of Luther (Iowa) in the semifinals before earning a 3-1 victory over Carl Broghammer of Division II Upper Iowa in the championship match. Baxter is now 13-0 on the season.
Hagen showed a streak of dominance in the 184-pound bracket as he posted four straight wins, the closest by four points, to earn the title. Hagen, ranked ninth according to D3wrestle.com, followed his opening-round bye with a pin and a 9-5 win over Ryan Swansen of Division II Colorado School of Mines. He started Friday with an eye-opening 20-5 technical fall against the top seed, Royal Brettrager, of Liberty (Va.), a former Division I program that was reclassified as a club sport this year. Hagen defeated Upper Iowa’s Mitchell Schultz 7-2 in the championship bout. He is now 10-2 on the year.
Senior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson), on his was back down to 174 pounds, mirrored Hagen on his way to the 184-pound semifinals and finished fifth. He won his first two matches before falling to Schultz in the semis. Pfarr lost to Shiheem Bryant of North Carolina-Pembroke, 6-5, and earned fifth due to a medical default. Brettrager eventually claimed third with a 6-3 victory over Bryant.
Sophomore Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.) claimed second at 149 pounds with a 4-1 mark. He gallantly progressed through the bracket despite his lack of seeding before falling to top-ranked Tony Valek of Augsburg in the championship match. Fellow sophomore Joe Hessing (Loretto, Minn./Delano) took seventh at 149 with a 4-2 record.
Nationally-ranked senior Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) finished fifth at 133 pounds. He won his first three matches by straight decision before falling in the semifinals. Like Pfarr at 184, Henle lost a one-point decision on path to the third-place match. He earned fifth place via default.
Sophomore Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) took fifth at 157 pounds with a 5-2 record, while junior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake) claimed seventh. Sophomore Aaron Padrnos (Brainerd, Minn.) knocked off the fourth and fifth seeds on his way to the 141-pound semifinals, but lost to nationally-ranked Will Keeter of Augsburg and defaulted to sixth place.
Junior Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) was not seeded in the 165-pound weight bracket despite being ranked seventh and eighth in the D3wrestle.com and NWCA rankings, respectively. He fell to top-seeded Orlando Ponce (Augsburg) 13-7 in his first match before tallying a 15-0 technical fall in the first consolation match. Schuler ended Friday with a 7-5 loss to Noel Sweeney of Augsburg. He is now 12-5 on the season.
The Johnnies travel to the Illinois state capital for the 2012 NWCA/Cliff Keen Division III National Duals next Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 7-8. The elite two-day tournament will be held at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.
Sophomore Matt Hickerson: 0-2
Senior Chad Henle: 4-2 (5th)
Senior Scott Padrnos: 3-2
Freshman Brian Waldron: 2-2
Sophomore Aaron Padrnos: 3-1 (6th)
Sophomore Alex Peck: 1-2
Sophomore Ryan Arne: 4-1 (2nd)
Freshman Ochirbat Bayanjargal: 1-2
Sophomore Joe Hessing: 4-2 (7th)
Senior Mike Cronan: 2-1
Junior Cody Goldschmidt: 0-2
Sophomore Brandon Seppelt: 5-2 (5th)
Junior Chris Stevermer: 4-2 (7th)
Freshman Luke Newgaard: 0-2
Freshman Matt Rogers: 3-2
Junior Nick Schuler: 1-2
Sophomore Aaron Brasket: 2-2
Freshman Luke Ramos: 0-2
Freshman Sam Wiese: 0-2
Sophomore Brock Friesen: 1-2
Junior Mitch Hagen: 4-0 (1st)
Senior Matt Pfarr: 4-2 (5th)
Senior Dustin Baxter: 5-0 (1st)
Sophomore Paul Plombon: 1-2
Sophomore John Scepaniak: 3-2