SJU Resumes Competition in Florida This Week

The sixth-ranked Saint John’s wrestling team returns to competition at the Citrus Open this Thursday and Friday, Dec. 29-30, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s (3-2 dual record) returns from a three-week hiatus after splitting a pair against nationally-ranked opponents at the Duals at the Dells on Dec. 9. The Johnnies started the night with a 22-16 win over then-No. 15 Wisconsin-Whitewater, before falling to No. 2 Wisconsin-La Crosse, 20-15. A trio of sophomores brought the Johnnies to within striking distance against the Warhawks before three upperclassmen gave SJU the lead for good. Sophomore Joe Hessing (Loretto, Minn./Delano) started the rally from 12-0 down with an 11-1 major decision at 149 pounds. Sophomores Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.) and Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) tallied back-to-back decisions, with the latter determined in overtime, at 157 and 165, respectively.

SJU found itself down big early (13-0) once again before the Johnnies rattled off three straight wins. Hessing and junior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake) recorded wins at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively, and Seppelt posted his second overtime win of the night at 165. Top-ranked Mike Schmitz defeated Schuler at 174, but wins from junior Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) and senior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) brought SJU to within one point (16-15) heading into the final match of the evening. Billy Mayer, ranked as high as third nationally, tallied a major decision over sophomore John Scepaniak (Avon, Minn./Holdingford) to give La Crosse the win.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: The Johnnies stayed at No. 6 in the Brute-Adidas National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Division lll poll released Dec. 13. Baxter stayed at No. 2 at 197 pounds in the NWCA rankings and debuted at No. 3 on’s 197-pound list. Baxter went 2-0 at the Duals at the Dells. He is now 8-0 on the season for the Johnnies.

Senior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) dropped out of the rankings but made his first appearance at 184 pounds, No. 5, in the NWCA rankings. He posted a 1-2 record at the St. Cloud State Husky Open Dec. 10. He advanced to the second round via medical forfeit and defeated MSU-Mankato’s Brandon Pederson (8-4) before falling to Minnesota’s Joel Bauman, 12-4. Pfarr fell to another Division I opponent, North Dakota State’s Kody Sorenson, 3-2 in the third-place match. He is 4-2 on the year.

Senior Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) fell to No. 8 and No. 9 in the and NWCA rankings, respectively. He fell to No. 7/8 Jake Fredrickson (2-1) and No. 5/7 Adam Sheley (5-3) at the Dells.

Junior Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) fell one spot to No. 7 in the rankings and two spots to No. 8 according to the NWCA despite not wrestling at 165 pounds last week. Schuler bumped up a weight class for both of his matches at the Dells. He defeated Reid Dickerson of Wisconsin-Whitewater (5-3) before falling to top-ranked Mike Schmitz of Wisconsin-La Crosse (10-3). Schuler is now 11-3 on the year. Hagen slid over to No. 10 at 184, from No. 9 at 197, in the rankings. He posted wins in both of his matches last week to improve to 6-2 on the year.