MOORHEAD, Minn. – The No. 20 ranked Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons wrestling team returns to Moorhead but will remain on the road, facing off against cross-town rival Concordia College, ranked No. 7 in the latest NCAA Division-III standings. The two teams will tangle for the 60th time in the two school’s history on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The No. 20 Dragons lead the all-time series 44-15, including last years dual that saw a big Dragon lead nearly slip away. Nearly a year ago today, the Dragons met up with the perennial D-III power that was ranked seventh in the nation at the time. The rankings will not be the only familiarity between the two duals.
A familiar foe
The Dragons, much like this year, received catalytic boosts from both heavyweight and 125-pound matches. Former heavyweight Tim Johnsonpinned the Cobbers’ Nick Nadeau and current 125-pounder Corey Ulmer followed that up with a 5-3 decision of Ben Presler. Ulmer, much like Wednesday night’s dual, came in leading the team in wins.
The Dragons have four returning starters from that dual who picked up wins, including Ulmer, 141-pounder Brady Schneeberger, 157-pounderTallen Wald and 165-pounder Tyler Kivel. All of the Dragons’ victims that night are returning for the Cobbers including Ben Presler (125), Ben Anderson (141), Kevin Fynboh (157), Joe Meinert (165), Ross Dankers (174) and Nick Nadeau (285).
This season for the Cobbers
The Cobbers come in with an undefeated record of 6-0, largely wrestling in open tournaments thus far this season. Wednesday night marks the second and last home dual of the season for the Cobbers, who defeated Ridgewater Community College 26-16 on Jan. 12. The Cobbers do enter the dual with last year’s NCAA Division-III national champion Phil Moenkedick (184 pounds).
This season for the Dragons
The Dragons have been exchanging wins and losses so far this season, entering Wednesday’s dual with a 4-6 record. In those 10 duals, eight have come against top-15 ranked opponents. The Dragons have won three of their four matches by a combined 113-19. The only close win for the Dragons came against No. 10 ranked Grand Canyon University (Ariz.) 18-16.
Three keys in the dual
Ulmer’s hot streak
The Dragons are lead in wins by redshirt junior Corey Ulmer who has posted a 17-4 record at 125 pounds this season. Ulmer has won 12 of his last 13 matches after losing a narrow decision to No. 3 ranked Trevor Franklin of Upper Iowa in the gold division championship match at the Augsburg Open. Just 15 days after falling to No. 1 Russell Weakley of North Carolina-Pembroke 4-5, Ulmer knocked off No. 2 Andy Forstner of Minnesota State Mankato by an 8-0 major decision.
Swart’s new class
Last season, Jon Swart had his struggles at 197-pounds, going 3-15 on the year. But a move up to heavyweight has given Swart a chance to become stronger and more focused on wrestling, instead of trying to keep down weight. This has resulted in an 11-8 turn around for the Fargo, N.D. native. Swart has won nine of his last 12 matches, nearly upsetting No. 1 ranked Jake Kahnke of St. Cloud State on Sunday.
The one big match
In last year’s dual, it was Tim Johnson’s pin that made the biggest impact on the Dragons 22-18 win over Concordia. This year’s dual is expected to be close once again and head coach Kris Nelson expects another big match to determine this year’s dual.
“I think it may come down to us getting either a pin or a couple big wins,” Nelson said. “I’m not sure where the big win might come from but we got a couple of guys who can do it.”
The dual is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. inside the Memorial Auditorium on the Concordia Cobber campus.
Possible starters for Wednesday’s dual
125 – No. 6 Corey Ulmer (17-4)
133 – Evan Forde (11-10)
141 – No. 3 Brady Schneeberger (9-8) or Connor MacGregor (5-4)
149 – Tyler Steinwand (8-11)
157 – Tallen Wald (13-7)
165 – Tyler Kivel (6-5)
174 – Trent Sovde (12-7) or Jacob Bennett (11-12 at 165, 0-1 @ 174)
184 – Jacob McLean (2-7)
197 – Brian Woelfel (6-11)
285 – Jon Swart (11-8)