The nationally-ranked Saint John’s wrestling team returns to action at the annual Augsburg Open this Saturday, Nov. 19. The tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis.
A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s placed 10 wrestlers in the top six of their respective weight classes at the Wisconsin-Stevens Point Open two weeks ago. Junior Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) won the 165-pound bracket with a perfect 5-0 record. He defeated the Pointers’ Jordan Schulte, ranked fourth nationally, 7-4 in the semifinal before pinning Ben Cox of Wisconsin in the championship bout. Fellow junior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake) claimed fifth at 165. Junior Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) and freshman Josh Willaert (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) posted matching 3-1 records at 184, though Willaert claimed second and Hagen finished third. Hagen lost to Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Sam Engelland, the seventh-ranked wrestler at 184 in the country, 3-1 in the semifinal. Willaert fell to Engelland via pin in 3:57. Sophomore Alex Peck (Edina, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s) claimed fourth at 141 and freshman Evan Guffey (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) finished fifth at 133. Junior Cody Socher (Delano, Minn.) fought back to finish fourth at heavyweight after losing a tough 4-2 match in overtime to start the season. He posted back-to-back pins to start wrestlebacks, followed by a 5-3 win and a forfeit, before falling to Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Anthony Edgren 4-3 in the third-place bout. The Johnnies placed three in the top six at 149. Freshman Jamie Brazil (Crystal, Minn./Robbinsdale Cooper) made quite a first impression in his collegiate debut with a second-place finish. Sophomore Joe Hessing (Loretto, Minn./Delano) followed close behind in third and sophomore Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.) took fifth.
NATIONAL RANKINGS: Five Johnnies were ranked in the latest D3wrestle.com rankings released Nov. 16. Senior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) retained the No. 1 ranking at 184 pounds, while classmate Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) stayed at No. 4 at 174. Senior Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) moved up one spot to No. 4 at 133 pounds. None of the three competed in the season opener at Wisconsin-Stevens Point two weeks ago. Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) cracked the top 10 as the sixth-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds following his impressive showing in Wisconsin. Hagen entered the rankings at No. 10 at 197. He claimed third place in the 184-pound bracket with a 3-1 record at Stevens Point. His lone loss was a 3-1 decision to nationally-ranked Sam Engelland of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Hagen totaled two decisions by seven points and pinned Mitchell Steed of Wheaton (Ill.) in the third-place match. D3wrestle.com also listed junior Cody Socher (Delano, Minn.) honorable mention at heavyweight. Saint John’s stayed at No. 6 in the most recent Brute-Adidas National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division III team rankings released Nov. 9.
LAST YEAR: Five Johnnies finished in the top three at last year’s Augsburg Open. Henle won the gold bracket at 133 pounds with a 4-0 record on the day. He defeated St. Cloud State’s Eric Ellington 5-3 in the championship match. Assistant coach Tony Willaert ’11 claimed second at 197 pounds. He dropped a 10-6 decision to Buena Vista’s (Iowa) Brian Broll, ranked sixth nationally, in the championship match. Chris Sandy ’11 and Matt Baarson ’11 took third at 141 and 165 pounds, respectively. Sandy’s lone loss was to eventual champion Bebeto Yewah, the nation’s top-ranked wrestler from Wisconsin-La Crosse, in the semifinals. Baarson also went 3-1 and dropped a close 5-4 decision to the eventual champion, St. Cloud State’s Tad Merritt, in the semifinal round. Pfarr bumped up to 184 pounds and finished third overall with a 3-1 record. He also lost to the eventual champion, Concordia-Moorhead’s Phil Moenkedick, by fall in the semifinals. Sophomores Joe Hessing (Loretto, Minn./Delano) and Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.) claimed third (silver) and first (bronze-1) at 149 pounds, while junior Charlie Kirscht (Garfield, Minn./Alexandria) won the second bronze bracket at 165. Schuler finished second in the silver bracket at 174, while sophomores David Rademacher (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Aaron Brasket (Independence, Minn./Delano) ended third in the bronze and C-1 brackets, respectively. Sophomore Dino Saracco (Wilmington, Ill.) was the lone Johnnie to place in the heavyweight division (third in the C-2 bracket).