MINNEAPOLIS — Claiming five champions and qualifying seven individuals to national tournament competition, the Augsburg College wrestling team won the championship for the 10th straight year at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional, held on Saturday at Augsburg’s Si Melby Hall.
Augsburg, ranked No. 4 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national poll, will send seven individuals to compete at the NCAA Division III National Championships, to be held March 9-10 in La Crosse, Wis.
Augsburg won the 15-team tournament with 172.5 points. The Auggies finished 62 points ahead of second-place St. John’s (110.5) and 64 ahead of third-place Elmhurst (Ill., 108.5). St. Olaf finished fourth with 89.0 points, while Concordia-Moorhead finished fifth with 87.5 points.
Augsburg, winners of 11 Division III national titles, has won every regional title since it first competed at the Great Lakes Regional in 2003. Augsburg has finished among the top four teams in NCAA national competition 23 years in a row.
“We’re thrilled to win the Great Lakes Regional for the 10th straight year. Overall, we wrestled very well today. We had seven finalists and five champions,” said Augsburg head coach Mark Matzek. “I’m proud of the whole team, not just the 10 guys wrestling. This is a true team effort, as we take another step towards our goal every year of winning a national championship.”
Augsburg’s three top-ranked wrestlers all won titles on Saturday, and will all make return trips to the national championships, led by seniors Tony Valek (SR, Belle Plaine, Minn./Scott West) at 149 and Orlando Ponce (SR, Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes HS) at 157. Both are two-time national runners-up and now four-time national tournament qualifiers. Heavyweight Chad Johnson (SO, Ferryville, Wis./De Soto HS) will make his second straight trip to the national tournament.
In addition, No. 5-ranked 141-pounder Will Keeter (SO, Twin Falls, Idaho) and 197-pounder Brad Baus (SR, Mukwonago, Wis.) won titles in their weight classes and qualified for the national tournament for the first time. Auggie 125-pounder Mike Fuenffinger (FY, Hibbing, Minn.) and 165-pounder Tommy Teigen (SO, Ham Lake, Minn./Meadow Creek Christian HS) will also compete at the national tournament for the first time after finishing second in their weight classes at the regional.