SJU Travels to Eau Claire Saturday

The Johnnies will travel to the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational this Saturday, Feb. 12. The meet is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Eau Claire, Wis.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIESSaint John’s recorded 14 top-eight finishes at the 2011 North Country Open held last Saturday in Collegeville. The Johnnies earned wins at two weights, posted four second-place finishes and three third’s. Senior Minga Batsukh (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia/St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.), ranked fourth nationally in Division III at 149, won his weight class with four technical falls and a major decision. He collected a total of 50 takedowns in his five matches, including a school-record in his 35-19 win in the opening round. The 17 takedowns broke the old record of 15 set by Scot Doboszenski during the 1992-93 season. Junior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson), the fourth-ranked wrestler at 174 pounds, went 5-0 with a 13-4 major decision in the championship match. Seniors Matt Baarson (Brooklyn Park, Minn./Champlin Park) and Tony Willaert (North Mankato, Minn./Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial), sophomore Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) and freshman Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) all took second in each of their respective weight classes. Baarson, Division III’s top-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds, rattled off three straight pins before falling to North Dakota State’s Steven Monk by a 5-2 decision in the final match. Willaert, ranked ninth at 197, collected three consecutive pins before losing to Minnesota’s Scott Schiller 9-8 due to riding time in the championship bout. Hagen, meanwhile, went 4-0 at 184, including a pin over top-seeded and fifth-ranked Dylan Azinger of Wartburg. He lost to Minnesota’s Joel Bauman by a 7-2 decision in the finals. Seppelt survived the 32-man bracket at 157 and advance to the finals via two decisions and two forfeits. He fell to Minnesota’s Brian Petersen by a 5-3 tally in the championship match. Juniors Dustin Baxter(Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) and Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer), and freshman Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) all finished third. Baxter won his first match at 184 before forfeiting the semifinal to Hagen. He then posted a major decision and won the third-place match via forfeit. Henle went 6-1 on the day, including four wins in wrestlebacks to claim third at 133. Schuler lost his first match of the day, but battled back with six straight wins, including pins in his final three matches. The meet featured a total of 221 wrestlers.

THIS YEAR’S BLUGOLD INVITE: In addition to the Johnnies and Blugolds, this year’s invitational is scheduled to include No. 3 Augsburg, Jamestown (N.D.), Luther (Iowa), No. 3 St. Cloud State (Division II), No. 2 Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Wisconsin-Parkside, No. 18 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (No. 18), No. 17 Wisconsin-Whitewater and No. 1 Wartburg (Iowa).

LAST YEAR’S MEET: Eight of Saint John’s 14 wrestlers placed as the Johnnies finished fourth out of 13 teams. Augsburg won the tournament with 221 points, followed by Wis.-La Crosse (149.5), Wis.-Parkside (126), SJU (109) and Wis.-Oshkosh (93). The Johnnies managed to finish fourth despite not having an entrant at two weights (125, 165) and not having starters in three of the other weights. Batsukh (141), John Vaith (157; Hastings, Minn.) and Willaert all claimed second place. Batsukh cruised thru the first three rounds with two technical falls and a pin before defeating Augsburg’s Cody Hansen 5-4 in the semifinals. The injury defaulted to the Auggies’ Jafari Vanier in the championship match. Vaith collected four wins of his own before falling to Wis.-La Crosse’s Ryan Farwell by a score of 2-0 in the championship bout. Willaert, a traditional 197-pounder, earned pins in his first two matches at heavyweight before defeating Jamestown’s (N.D.) Willie Hernandez 9-5 in the semifinals. He lost to Augsburg’s Andrew Witzel, 1-0 in the championship match. 

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