LA CROSSE, Wis. – Saint John’s seniors Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) and Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) ended their collegiate careers as All-Americans at the 2012 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 10, in La Crosse, Wis.
The Johnnies finished 11th out of 62 teams with a total of 29.5 points. Wartburg (Iowa) claimed its ninth national title and fourth in the last five years with a total of 141.5 points, followed by Augsburg (86.5), Coe of Iowa (74) and Wisconsin-La Crosse (65).
Baxter won his semifinal match at 197 pounds with a 4-2 upset over second-seeded and previously undefeated (31-0) Jared Myhrberg of Cortland State (N.Y.) in the third overtime. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, Myhrberg took a 2-1 lead with an escape in the second overtime, but Baxter tallied a takedown soon after and then an escape in his 30-second down position to earn the win and a trip to the title match against another undefeated wrestler (38-0), two-time defending national champion Byron Tate of Wartburg. Tate took control early and claimed a 7-2 win in the championship bout over Baxter, who ended his final season with a 30-3 record. The All-America honor is the third of his career as a four-time national entrant.
Pfarr lost his 174-pound semifinal match by a 6-4 decision to Bradley Banks of Wartburg and bounced back with a 6-5 win over Matt Cross of Messiah (Pa.) to earn a spot in the third-place match. With the score tied at 1-1, second-seeded Michael Schmitz of Wisconsin-La Crosse tallied a takedown with 16 seconds left on the edge of the mat. Pfarr escaped shortly thereafter, but Schmitz back-pedaled in circles to run out the final 10 seconds. Pfarr ended the season with a 24-8 record. The All-America honor is his second consecutive at 174 pounds.