The Johnnie wrestling team hosts the annual North Country Open this Saturday, Feb. 4. The tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Donald McNeely Spectrum in Collegeville.
A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: St. Cloud State, the top-ranked wrestling team in NCAA Division II, jumped out to a 24-0 lead en route to a 30-10 win over eighth-ranked (Division III) Saint John’s on Feb. 2 in St. Cloud. The Huskies (19-0 dual record) started the dual with a pair of wins and followed a decision at 133 pounds with a major decision and technical fall to earn a commanding 24-0 lead. Junior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake) stopped the bleeding for SJU (8-7 dual record) with a dominating 8-0 major decision at 157 pounds. Junior Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) improved to 21-6 on the season with a 10-6 decision at 165 pounds. Senior Matt Pfarr (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) dropped a 12-5 decision to Tad Merritt, the top-ranked wrestler in Division II at 165, at 174 pounds. Derek Skala, ranked third in Division II, posted an 8-3 win over junior Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg). Senior Dustin Baxter (Fairbanks, Alaska/West Valley) ended the dual with a 5-3 overtime win at 197 pounds to stay undefeated with a 22-0 record. Down 3-1, Baxter earned a takedown with just a few seconds remaining in the match, and then turned a single-leg shot into a takedown early in the first overtime.
WHO WILL BE HERE: In addition to the host Johnnies, competing wrestlers are scheduled to hail from Augsburg, Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth, Ridgewater, Rochester Community and Technical, St. Cloud State, St. Olaf and Southwest Minnesota State.
LAST YEAR’S TOURNEY: Saint John’s recorded 14 top-eight finishes at last year’s North Country Open held on Feb. 5. The Johnnies earned wins at two weights, posted four second-place finishes and three third’s. Minga Batsukh ’11 won his weight class (149) with four technical falls and a major decision. He collected a total of 50 takedowns in his five matches, including a school-record in his 35-19 win in the opening round. The 17 takedowns broke the old record of 15 set by Scot Doboszenski during the 1992-93 season. Pfarr went 5-0 with a 13-4 major decision in the 174-pound championship match. Matt Baarson ’11 and Tony Willaert ’11, Hagen and sophomore Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) all took second in each of their respective weight classes. Hagen went 4-0 at 184, including a pin over top-seeded and fifth-ranked Dylan Azinger of Wartburg (Iowa). He lost to Minnesota’s Joel Bauman by a 7-2 decision in the finals. Seppelt survived the 32-man bracket at 157 and advance to the finals via two decisions and two forfeits. He fell to Minnesota’s Brian Petersen by a 5-3 tally in the championship match. Baxter, Schuler and senior Chad Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) all finished third. Baxter won his first match at 184 before forfeiting the semifinal to Hagen. He then posted a major decision and won the third-place match via forfeit. Henle went 6-1 on the day, including four wins in wrestlebacks to claim third at 133. Schuler lost his first match of the day, but battled back with six straight wins, including pins in his final three matches. The meet featured a total of 221 wrestlers.