WAVERLY, Iowa – Tony Valek (SR, Belle Plaine, Minn./Scott West) improved to 22-0 on the season with a second-period pin for Augsburg College, but Wartburg College (Iowa) claimed a 22-17 victory in a battle of the top two-ranked teams in NCAA Division III wrestling on Thursday evening at the Wartburg-Waverly Sports and Wellness Center.
Wartburg (18-1 overall), the top-ranked team in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national rankings and defending national champions, won six of 10 matches over No. 2-ranked Augsburg (8-2 overall), including four major-decision wins in a row in the second half of the dual meet to clinch the victory.
The top-ranked wrestler in Division III at 149 pounds, Valek pushed his record to 22-0 on the season, rallying from a 5-0 first-period deficit with 10 straight points before claiming the pin with 10 seconds left in the second period against Wartburg’s Drew Wagenhoffer. The pin was Valek’s 10th of the season. Of Valek’s 22 wins this season, 19 have been bonus-point decisions (10 pins, one technical fall, eight major decisions).
Augsburg’s other top-ranked wrestler, heavyweight Chad Johnson (SO, Ferryville, Wis./DeSoto HS), improved to 25-1 on the season with a 15-6, major-decision win over Wartburg’s No. 6-ranked Ryan Fank. Of Johnson’s 25 wins, 16 have been bonus-point wins (nine pins, seven major decisions).
Orlando Ponce (SR, Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah-Miami Lakes HS) improved to 15-0 on the season with a 12-4, major-decision win over Wartburg’s Cameron Wagner at 157 pounds. Ponce, ranked No. 2 nationally at 165 pounds, dropped to 157 last weekend and has won all four of his matches since moving to the lower weight class.
Augsburg’s other victory came from No. 7-ranked 133-pounder Tom Kuehn (FY, Fargo, N.D./West Fargo HS), who scored a 7-6 win over Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Thomas Mirocha. Kuehn rallied from a 4-1, first-period deficit to tie the match 6-6 near the end of the second period, then rode Mirocha for the entire third period to score the riding-time bonus point for the win, improving to 14-7 on the season.
In the other battles of ranked wrestlers, Wartburg’s Kodie Silvestri, ranked No. 4 at 141, topped Augsburg’s No. 6-ranked Will Keeter (SO, Twin Falls, Idaho) 8-4, and Wartburg’s top-ranked 197-pounder Byron Tate scored an 18-4, major-decision win over Augsburg’s No. 4-ranked Brad Baus (SR, Mukwonago, Wis.).
At 125, Augsburg’s Mike Fuenffinger (FY, Hibbing, Minn.) fell 8-3 to Wartburg’s No. 2-ranked Kenny Anderson; Noel Sweeney (SO, Grand Rapids, Minn.) fell 9-0 to Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Landon Williams at 165; Brandon Bahr (SR, Bemidji, Minn.) fell13-4 to Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Bradley Banks at 174; and Matt Hechsel (FY, Apple Valley, Minn.) fell 16-7 to Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Dylan Azinger at 184.
Augsburg returns to action with split-squad meets on Saturday (2/4) at 9 a.m., competing at the St. John’s North Country Open and the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational. Augsburg will finish the weekend on Sunday (2/5) at 2 p.m., with a dual meet at No. 3-ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Wartburg 22 Augsburg 17
125: #2 Kenny Anderson (WB) vs. Mike Fuenffinger (A), dec 8-3. WB 3-0
133: #7 Tom Kuehn (A) vs. #4 Tommy Mirocha (WB), dec. 7-6. Tied 3-3
141: #4 Kodie Silvestri (WB) vs. #6 Will Keeter (A), dec. 8-4 WB 6-3
149: #1 Tony Valek (A) vs. Drew Wagenhoffer (WB), fall 4:50. AC 9-6
157: Orlando Ponce (A) vs. Cameron Wagner (WB), maj dec 12-4. AC 13-6
165: #4 Landon Williams (WB) vs. Noel Sweeney (A), maj dec 9-0 AC 13-10
174: #4 Bradley Banks (WB) vs. Brandon Bahr (A), maj dec. 13-4. WB 14-13
184: #4 Dylan Azinger (WB) vs. Matt Hechsel (A), maj dec. 16-7. WB 18-13
197: #1 Byron Tate (WB) vs. #4 Brad Baus (A), maj. dec 18-4. WB 22-13
285: #1 Chad Johnson (A) vs. #6 Ryan Fank (WB), maj dec 15-6. WB 22-17.