No. 6 SJU Begins Dual Competition Saturday in La Crosse

The nationally-ranked St. John’s wrestling team returns to competition at the Wisconsin-La Crosse Duals this Saturday, Dec. 3. No. 6 SJU is scheduled to face No. 25 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (9 a.m.), No. 5 Cornell of Iowa (11 a.m.) and Loras of Iowa (1 p.m.).

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Four Johnnies finished in the top three at the Augsburg Open two weeks ago in Minneapolis. Sophomore Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) won the gold bracket at 157 pounds with a perfect 4-0 record, including a forfeit win over teammate Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake) in the semifinals. Stevermer went 3-1 to claim third. Senior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley), the top-ranked wrestler in Division III, finished second at 184 pounds due to a medical forfeit in the championship match. Senior Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) claimed second at 133 pounds with a 3-1 record. He held a 5-0 lead over MSU-Mankato’s Drew Lexvold before getting caught and pinned in 1:54. Sophomore Aaron Padrnos (Brainerd, Minn.) posted a perfect 3-0 record to win the silver bracket at 141 pounds. Sophomore Ryan Arne (149; Orono, Minn.), sophomore John Scepaniak (285; Avon, Minn./Holdingford) and freshman Brian Waldron (133; Lake Zurich, Ill./Carmel Catholic) earned consolation titles at their respective weights.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Five Johnnies were ranked in the latest rankings released Nov. 28. Baxter remained at the No. 1 ranking in the 184-pound weight class, while fellow senior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) moved up two spots to No. 2 at 174 pounds. Henle is ranked fifth at 133 pounds. Junior Nick Schuler (Rosevile, Minn./Totino-Grace) remained the sixth-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds, while classmate Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) moved up one spot to No. 9 at 197 pounds. Schuler won the 165-pound bracket at the UW-Stevens Point Open, going a perfect 5-0 on the day. Hagen finished third at the UW-Stevens Point Open after posting a 3-1 record at 184 pounds. Henle, Schuler, Pfarr and Baxter were also ranked on the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division III Brute-Adidas Individual Rankings released Nov. 29. Henle is ranked third at 133 pounds, while Schuler is ranked sixth at 165 pounds. Pfarr is ranked second at 174 pounds, while Baxter is ranked second at 197 pounds. Saint John’s stayed at No. 6 in the most recent Brute-Adidas NWCA Division III team rankings released Nov. 29.

A LOOK AT THE POINTERS: UWSP’s Joe Mileski went 5-0 and to win the 133-pound weight class at the Concordia (Wis.) Open Nov. 19. Ryan Conat finished third at 174 pounds, while Jordan Kust finished fourth at 141 pounds. Mileski and Conat both defeated nationally-ranked opponents. Bill Langford finished fifth at 165, while Ben Strobel wrestled in nine matches to earn sixth place at 157 pounds. Mileski is ranked fourth in the NWCA poll behind SJU’s Henle and ranked third, two spots ahead of Henle, in the poll. Kust, Conat and junior Jordan Schulte (165) are all listed as contenders at their respective weight classes in the rankings. As a team, the Pointers moved down four spots to No. 25 in the most recent NWCA Division III team rankings. Last year, Saint John’s defeated Stevens Point 22-18 at the Wisconsin-La Crosse Duals. Henle defeated Jordan Kust 3-1 at 133 pounds.

A LOOK AT THE RAMS: Cornell posted a 2-1 record against three Iowa schools last Friday, Nov. 25, at the Iowa Duals. The Rams lost 26-12 to Iowa Central (No. 1, NJCAA) and were defeated 42-0 by top-ranked NCAA Division I University of Iowa. The team then defeated Baker (No. 15, NAIA) 25-9 in the final dual of the day. Cornell currently has three seniors listed in the national rankings: Joe Hambleton, fourth at 165 pounds; Nicholas Loughlin, fifth at 157 pounds; and Timothy Hood, 10th at 125 pounds. The NWCA also has Loughlin and Hambleton ranked at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively. Both finished 2-1 on the day to lead the Rams. Hambleton earned a 7-3 decision over Iowa Central’s seventh-ranked Colin Hewitt. Hood also earned a win for the Rams against Iowa Central, a pin in 4:15. Senior Tigue Snider (133), senior Jacob Schwebke (149) and junior Ryan Roberts (184) were all listed as contenders in the rankings. Cornell remains one spot ahead of SJU at No. 5 in the latest NWCA team rankings. SJU last faced Cornell during the 2009-10 season and posted a 1-1 record. The Johnnies defeated the Rams 22-18 at the La Crosse Duals before dropping a 25-20 decision to the Rams at the NWCA/Cliff Keen Division III National Duals.

A LOOK AT THE DUHAWKS: Three Loras wrestlers placed in the top eight at the Concordia (Wis.) Open Nov. 19. Senior Pat Pfantz finished fifth at 125 pounds. His only loss came to No. 2 Gilberto Camacho Wartburg (Iowa). Junior Matt Holmes finished in fourth place at 133 pounds and lost to Mileski of Stevens Point, 5-4. Senior Mitch Gansen won his first two matches but lost his next two and placed sixth at 165 pounds. Holmes and Gansen were listed as contenders on the latest rankings, while Pfantz was listed honorable mention. Saint John’s defeated Loras College 26-16 at the Wartburg Duals in 2009.

LAST YEAR’S DUALS: Then-No. 9 Saint John’s went 3-0 at last year’s Wisconsin-La Crosse Duals with wins over Wisconsin-Eau Claire (44-3), No. 14 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (22-18) and Waldorf of Iowa (39-12). SJU opened the day with a 44-3 drubbing of the Blugolds thanks to five pins and two major decisions. The Johnnies then set their sights on No. 14 Wisconsin-Stevens Point. SJU answered a 6-0 deficit with a pair of decisions to tie the match before Minga Batsukh ’11 posted a major decision at 149. A decision at 157 cut the Johnnies’ lead to a point before Matt Baarson ’11 recorded a pin over No. 8 Jordan Schulte. John Vaith ’11 bumped up to 174 pounds and tallied a decision. Pfarr jumped a weight class to 184 and lost a hard-fought 4-0 decision to Ben Engelland, the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the nation. Tony Willaert ’11 sealed the win for SJU with a 12-5 decision at 197. SJU went to its depth in the 39-13 win over Waldorf (Iowa), thanks to two forfeits. Baarson went a perfect 3-0 with three pins, while Batsukh and Baxter tallied a pin and major decision each. Henle went 2-0 on the day.