Annual Stearns County Clash Set for Thursday

No. 8 Saint John’s pays No. 1 (NCAA Division II) St. Cloud State a visit this Thursday, Feb. 2. The dual is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Halenbeck Hall.

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MILITARY APPRECIATION/PREP NIGHT: All active members of the military and veterans will receive free admission to the match in honor of Military Appreciation Night. The Prep Night promotion will offer a special $1 admission price to any student in 12th grade or lower.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s (8-6 dual record) went 2-1 at the Minnesota Duals last Saturday in Minneapolis. The Johnnies started the day with wins over No. 18 Concordia-Moorhead (23-18) and St. Olaf (35-12) before falling to the second-ranked Auggies, 23-16. Down 6-0 to Concordia, sophomore Alex Peck (Edina, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s) put SJU on the scoreboard with a 14-8 decision at 141 pounds. Junior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake) followed a Cobber pin at 149 pounds with a tight 3-1 decision at 157. The win led to four straight SJU wins, including three in bonus-point fashion. Junior Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) tied the dual at 12-12 with a pin of Josten Coleman at 165. Senior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson), ranked as high as eighth according to the NWCA, then tallied a 13-5 major decision at 174. Junior Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) followed suit with a major decision of his own, 15-5, at 184. Senior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley), ranked second at 197 pounds, earned an 8-3 win over the Cobbers’ Nate Schmitz, who is ranked as high as fourth according to Cody Kasprick ended the dual with a pin at heavyweight for Concordia.

Senior Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer), the ninth-ranked wrestler at 133 according to, bounced back from his 6-4 loss to nationally-ranked Daron Hohbein with a 12-3 major decision against the Oles’ Ian Peppel. Peppel pinned seventh-ranked Tom Kuehn of Augsburg earlier in the morning. Junior Cody Goldschmidt (Waconia, Minn./BOLD) cut the Johnnies’ early deficit to 9-7 with a 4-2 win at 149 pounds. Sophomore Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) registered an early 2-0 lead at 157, but St. Olaf’s Jacob Bohler responded with a reversal and three-point near fall en route to a 7-4 win. Nevertheless, SJU answered with five straight bonus-point victories, including four pins, to end the dual. Hagen and Schuler collected pins, while Pfarr mastered a 12-3 major decision. Freshman Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.) recorded his first collegiate pin at 184 pounds and sophomore John Scepaniak (Avon, Minn./Holdingford) ended the dual with a fall in 4:00.

Henle answered a major decision at 125 with an 8-5 win at 133 against the Auggies. Augsburg, however, responded with three straight wins from nationally-ranked wrestlers to build a 17-3 lead. Schuler ended his day with a perfect 3-0 record thanks to a 14-3 major decision at 165. He totaled 3:20 of riding time in the victory and improved to 20-6 on the season. Fifteen of his 20 victories are bonus-point wins, including eight pins (five major decisions and two technical falls). Pfarr followed with 3:07 of riding time at 174 but settled for a 6-3 win. He is now 15-6 on the year. Hagen continued the perfect trend with a 4-2 victory at 184 to improve to 17-4 on the season. Baxter wrapped up the day unscathed with an 8-4 win over Augsburg’s Brad Baus, who is ranked as high as fourth by the NWCA. Baxter’s win cut the Johnnies’ deficit to one point, 17-16, but top-ranked Chad Johnson earned a pin of Scepaniak in 6:54 to clinch the win. Baxter is 21-0 on the year.

A LOOK AT THE HUSKIES: St. Cloud State (18-0 dual record) gained a big 26-9 win over third-ranked Augustana (S.D.) Jan. 27. The Huskies earned key wins from Dylan Wright (125), Andy Pokorny (133) and Jay Hildreth (141) over the Vikings’ nationally-ranked wrestlers to ice the win. SCSU ended the weekend with a 33-6 win over Southwest Minnesota State Jan. 28. For his big win over Augie, Pokorny was named the NSIC Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 30. SCSU remained No. 1 in the latest DII coaches’ poll released Jan. 25, ahead of No. 2 Newberry (S.C.) and No. 3 Upper Iowa. Tad Merritt (165) and Jake Kahnke (285) are both ranked No. 1 in this week’s national poll, while Shamus O’Grady (174), Derek Skala (184) and Luke Munkelwitz (197) are all ranked third nationally. Jacob D. Horn is ranked fifth at 157. Merritt leads the Huskies with 27 wins this season (27-2), including 15 pins. He currently has 133 career wins, and he needs nine more wins this season to tie the SCSU career record of 142 wins set by Dustin Darveaux from 1999-03.Kahnke is 26-1, while Munkelwitz owns a 21-4 record this winter. Others of note include Derek Skala at 20-2 and Josh Howk at 21-12 Howk boasts a team-high 16 pins. Kahnke (2nd at 285), Merritt (3rd at 165), O’Grady (4th at 174) and Horn (5th at 149) earned All-America honors last March. Skala was a redshirt last year but earned All-America honors at previous NCAA meets. SCSU set a new team standard by capturing second place at the 2011 NCAA Division II championships; its best finish at nationals since the program started in 1949-50.

LAST YEAR’S MEETING: Then-No. 6 Saint John’s won a pair of individual upsets but St. Cloud State, then-ranked second nationally, earned a 24-12 dual win in front of nearly 1,000 spectators on last Jan. 14 (2011) in Collegeville. SCSU’s Zach Stewart started the dual with a 20-5 technical fall of senior Scott Padrnos (Brainerd, Minn.) to give the Huskies a 5-0 lead. The result could have been a lot different, however, as Padrnos nearly pinned Stewart in the first period. Down 2-0, Padrnos scored a reversal, then put Stewart on his back for nearly 15 seconds but could not get the pin called. Stewart then scored a reversal following the three-point near fall and went on to score 16 consecutive points. Henle cut the deficit to 5-3 with a 5-2 decision at 133 pounds. Gabe Suarez, ranked seventh at 141, extended SCSU’s lead to 9-3 with a 16-7 major decision over Chris Sandy. Minga Batsukh ’11 brought it to within three points again with an 11-8 win at 149 lbs. The Huskies grew their lead to 12-6 with a pair of wins from ranked wrestlers at 157 and 165. Then-No. 6 John Sundgren posted a 7-2 win over Drew Larson ’11 and second-ranked Tad Merritt earned a 12-3 major decision win over junior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake). Normally a wrestler at 157 pounds, Stevermer filled in for Matt Baarson ’11, the third-ranked wrestler in Division III, due to injury. The Johnnies bounced back with a pair of wins of their own at 174 and 184; the dual’s two matches in which both wrestlers were nationally-ranked. Pfarr, the fourth-ranked wrestler in Division III, upset No. 6 Shamus O’Grady by a 6-5 margin. Baxter, the seventh-ranked wrestler in Division III, followed with a convincing 7-2 upset of No. 5 (Division II) Mic Berg to cut the Huskies’ lead to 16-12. Luke Munkelwitz sealed the dual victory for SCSU with a 10-3 decision over Tony Willaert ’11 at 197 pounds. Division II’s top-ranked wrestler at heavyweight, Jake Kahnke, ended the dual with a 23-8 technical fall.

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