Huskies Climb to No. 2 at NCAA Championships

Sundgren & Kahnke Wrestle for National Title!

Senior John Sundgren

KEARNEY, Neb. – The St. Cloud State University wrestling team finished the third session of the NCAA Division II Championships in second place with 86.5 points, as senior John Sundgren and sophomore Jake Kahnke earned trips to the National Title matches in their respective 157-pound and heavyweight divisions Saturday afternoon at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Health and Sports Center.

The Huskies jumped from third place to second with a 39.5-point third session, while the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO) remains on top with 90.5 teams points. Augustana College sits in third place with 81.5 points and Upper Iowa is in fourth with 62.

Sundgren (15-3) punched his ticket to the NCAA championship round with a huge 5-2 win over Jordan Shields of Mercyhurst. Tied 2-2 to start the third period, Sundgren recorded a quick escape and closed out the semifinal match with a takedown for the decision.

Sundgren will face Dillion Bera (26-7) of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in tonight’s 157-pound Championship round.

In the heavyweight match, Kahnke (28-1) earned his trip to the national title match with a 4-1 win over Taylor Escamilla of UNO. Kahnke scored a reversal to start the third period and recorded a take down in the final minute to move on to the title match.

Kahnke will face No. 2 Matthew Meuleners of Northern State in tonight’s heavyweight championship match. He earned a decision in both matches against Meuleners this season.

As far as a national title is concerned, Gene Hanemann was the last SCSU wrestler to win an individual NCAA Division II national championship, as he took the podium in 1995. Before Hanemann, the last Husky wrestler to win a title was Mike Rybak in 1967.

The championship session of the tournament kicks off tonight at 6:45 with the All-American parade followed by the final 10 matches of the tournament at 7:00 p.m.

For a complete list of team scores and individual results Click Here!

In the first match of the day at 141 pounds, Gabe Suarez (30-9) got things started for the Huskies with a 4-3 win over Jimmy Savala of Chadron State.

Suarez then earned a spot in the third place match with a close 4-2 win over Matt Irwin of Upper Iowa.
He then put an exclamation point on his tournament and his career with a down to the wire 3-2 win over No. 2 ranked Jay Sherer of Augustana.

In the second match of the day in the wrestle-back bracket, junior Jacob D. Horn (29-11) beat Esai Dominguez of UNO 5-4 at 149 pounds as he held off Dominguez for the final two minutes to earn a riding time point and the win.
Horn then lost an 8-3 decision to Mitchell Means of Fort Hayes State University before posting a come from behind 7-5 decision over John Paukovits of Kuntztown in the fifth place match.

Senior Tad Merritt (40-4) earned a 16-2 tech. fall over Brandon Kelly of Ashland at 165 pounds in his first match of the day to tie the SCSU school record for most wins in a season.

Merritt then set a new record with his 39th win of the season in an 8-3 win over Gavin Nelson of Augustana College for a shot at a third place finish in the tournament.

He continued to raise the SCSU win-bar with the final decision of his career, as he claimed a third place finish in the tournament with a 4-1 win over Joey Wilson of UNK.

Sophomore Shamus O’Grady (30-9) lost his semifinal match in a 14-5 major decision that went to Luke Rynish of the University of Wisconsin Parkside at 174 pounds.

O’Grady then faced Mark Mueller of Upper Iowa and became the third Husky to head to advance to a third place match with an 8-2 win.

He finished the tournament and the third session for the Huskies with a tough 7-6 loss to Victor Carazo of Grand Canyon University to place fourth in the tournament to record the Huskies’ fourth and final top five finish of the tournament.