SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Concordia recorded another record-setting performance at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis. on Saturday. The Cobbers had five wrestlers earn spots in the NCAA National Meet which is the most in program history.
The Cobber Fab Five was led by defending national champion Phil Moenkedick who went 4-0 and won the title in the 184-lb weight class. It is the fourth straight season that Moenkedick has won a regional championship and he ends his career with a perfect 16-0 mark at the regionals.
As a team Concordia posted their fourth straight top 3 finish at the Great Lakes Regional Meet. The Cobbers finished with a final team score of 124.0 points which is the second most in school history. CC was only 1.5 points out of second place and 29.5 points behind region champion Augsburg.
Concordia had three other wrestlers finish in second place to earn the automatic berth to the national meet as the top two finishers in each weight class advanced to the NCAA Meet. Returning All-American Justin Berns lost 8-3 in the championship match to fourth-ranked Orlando Ponce of Augsburg. Berns advanced to the title match by posting a pair of major decisions in the first two rounds and then a 5-3 decision in the semifinals.
The lightest two Cobbers at the meet made biggest impact for CC. Ben Presler and Daron Hohbein both lost in the championship matches but both finished second in their weight classes. Presler won three straight before losing a tight 3-1 decision in the championship match at 125. He then posted a 5-0 win in the true second place match to punch his first-ever ticket to the national meet. Hohbein had one of the biggest wins of the day for Concordia in the semifinals of 133 when he pinned Chad Henle of St. John’s. Hohbein entered the regionals as the No.3 seed and pinned No.2-seeded Henle at 6:02. He then lost 4-1 in the championship match but didn’t need to wrestle in a true second place match to earn his national spot.
The fifth Cobber qualifier proved how far the program has come over the past three years as sophomore Nate Schmitz finished third at 197 but earned one of the nine at-large bids the regional owned. He is the second wrestler in school history to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Meet. Last year Ben Anderson picked up the at-large bid at 141. Schmitz won his first match of the day but then lost to No.2-seeded Tony Willaert of St. John’s in the semifinals. He then came back to win two straight matches to finish third in the weight class. Like Hohbein and Presler, Schmitz earned his first trip to the national meet.
Concordia sophomore Tom Bouressa lost in the championship match at 285 and then fell 5-2 in the true second place match. Despite not earning one of the at-large spots from the regionals, Bouressa is an alternate to the NCAA Meet and will become the sixth CC wrestler at the national meet if one of the qualified 285-lb wrestlers is unable to compete. Bouressa, the No.3 seed at the regionals, posted a dramatic 5-1 win over No.2-seeded Ryan Hatten of the University of Chicago in the semifinals. He had posted pin falls in the first two matches of the day before his win over Hatten.
The only other top 5 finish for Concordia at the meet was turned in by freshman Jake Long who placed fifth in his very first regional. Long lost his first match of the meet but then came back to win four of the next five matches which included a pair of pin falls.
The five Cobber national qualifiers will compete at the NCAA National Meet on Mar. 11-12 in La Crosse, Wis.
Concordia NCAA National Meet Qualifiers
125 – Ben Presler
133 – Daron Hohbein
157 – Justin Berns
184 – Phil Moenkedick
197 – Nathan Schmitz (At-large bid recipient)
Final Team Scores:
1. Augsburg – 153.5
2. St. Johns – 125.5
3. Concordia – 124
4. North Central – 90
5. Elmhurst – 85
6. St. Olaf – 71.5
7. Augustana – 54
8. Chicago – 42.5
9. Lakeland – 33
10. MSOE – 28.5
11. Pacific – 19.0
12. Wheaton – 16.0
13. CUW – 15.5
14. Knox – 14.5
15. MBBC – .5