Seven Saint John’s wrestlers travel to compete at the NCAA Division III Championships this Friday and Saturday, March 11-12. Competition begins at 11 a.m. Friday; followed by Session II at 4:30 p.m. Session III begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by the championships matches at 6 p.m. at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis. – Championships Website
A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s finished second out of 15 teams at the Great Lakes Regional Tournament held two weeks ago in Sheboygan, Wis. The previous record of six entrants in a single season, set in 1983 (NAIA) and 1998 (NCAA), was broken this year when the Johnnies qualified seven. SJU also broke its old record of two Great Lake Regional Champions, set in 2009 (Mogi Baatar and Minga Batsukh), with three champions this year; senior Chris Sandy (141), senior Minga Batsukh (149), and senior Matt Baarson (165). SJU has now qualified two or more wrestlers to the national tournament 21 of the last 22 seasons.
- 133 pounds: Junior Chad Henle (23-8 record; Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer)
- 141 pounds: Senior Chris Sandy (21-5 record; Spirit Lake, Iowa)
- 149 pounds: Senior Minga Batsukh (22-1 record, No. 3; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia/St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.), the two-time national champion at 141 pounds.
- 165 pounds: Senior Matt Baarson (24-3 record, No. 1; Brooklyn Park, Minn./Champlin Park)
- 174 pounds: Junior Matt Pfarr (26-7 record, No. 4; Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur Henderson)
- 184 pounds: Senior Dustin Baxter (21-7 record, No. 7; Fairbanks, Minn./West Valley)
- 197 pounds: Senior Tony Willaert (20-10 record; North Mankato, Minn./Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial)
Henle will face No. 8 seed Thomas Mirocha (28-4; Wartburg). If Henle wins his first match, he will most likely face the undefeated top-seed William Livingston (22-0; Century). There are a total of four returning All-Americans wrestling at 133 pounds this year.
Sandy will receive a first-round bye before facing No. 8 seed David Alsieux (26-4; Century). If Sandy wins his first match, he has a chance for a rematch against No. 1 seed Bebeto Yewah (23-2; Wis.-La Crosse). Sandy has fallen to Yewah twice this season. Also, if Sandy wins his first match, Saint John’s will receive advancement points for the bye he received in the first round. The top two seeds in this weight class are both undefeated against Division III competition and were finalists last year, with Yewah claiming the title at 133 pounds and Jeremy Stierly (19-1; Ithaca) finishing second to Batsukh at 141. This is one of the deepest weight classes with eight returning All-Americans.
Batsukh, the No. 3 seed, will wrestle Corey Paulish (25-7; Williams) in the first round. If Batsukh wins his first two matches he could face sixth-seeded Matt Mauseth (22-9; Wis.-La Crosse) in the quarterfinals. Batsukh defeated Mauseth earlier this season with a 10-5 decision. Batsukh could then meet up with the No. 2 seed, Blaine Wozsczak of Ithaca (N.Y.), his only loss this season. Wozsczak and Batsukh wrestled at the Division III National Duals Tournament, where Wozsczak won a 7-5 overtime decision. Batsukh defeated the Nos. 4, 6 and 7 seeds in his bracket already this year. The No. 1 seed at 149 pounds, Isaac Dukes (33-4; Case Western Reserve), is the defending national champion. Three returning champions are in this weight class, including last year’s winner at both 141 pounds and 149 pounds (Batsukh and Dukes), as well as the 2009 champion (Mauseth). This bracket returns a total of six All-Americans.
Second-seeded Baarson receives a first-round bye and will face the winner between Jordan Graham (32-13; Augustana) and Adam Weber (10-6; Wartburg). Baarson, who is ranked No. 1 nationally, was seeded second because the No. 1 seed, Josh Terrel (33-3; Dubuque), is the returning national champion at 165 pounds. Baarson has defeated the No. 6 and No. 8 seeded wrestlers in his bracket already this season. There are eight All-Americans in the 165-pound weight class, with the defending champ and last year’s Outstanding Wrestler seeded fourth, and the defending champion at 157 pounds seeded fifth.
Pfarr, the No. 5 seed, will wrestle Kyle Roosa (28-9; Wesleyan) in the first match on Friday. If Pfarr wins his first match, he has the possibility of facing the No. 4 seed, Michael Reilly (30-1; Kings). Pfarr has dropped one point losses to both the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds this season, but has defeated the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds.
Baxter, the No. 8 seed, received a first-round bye. Baxter will wrestle Andy Jenkins (23-11; Mount Union). If Baxter wins his first match, he will most likely meet familiar foe and defending national champion Phil Moenkedick (Concordia-Moorhead) in the quarterfinals.
Willaert will wrestle No. 7 seed Adam Latella (32-5; Wis.-Whitewater). Willaert dropped a one-point decision, 7-6, to Latella earlier this year. With a first-round win, Willaert will most likely wrestle second-seeded Jared Massey (17-4; Augsburg), whom he lost to in the finals of the NCAA Great Lakes Regional two weeks ago (11-2).