Seven Vikings bound for NCAA Championships

No. 6-ranked Augustana will send seven wrestlers to the NCAA Championships Friday and Saturday in Pueblo, Colo.

NCAA Championships
Colorado State-Pueblo is the host for this year’s tournament. The 3,900-seat Massari Arena, constructed in 1971 and renovated in 2008, is the home of CSUP’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams. CSUP has set up a tournament homepage here.


Last time out
Augustana finished third with 129.5 points at the Super Regional Three Championships hosted by St. Cloud State on Feb. 26. The Vikings crowned one individual champion and qualified seven wrestlers for nationals. Host SCSU (164 points) earned top honors, and Upper Iowa (155.5 points) placed second.

Magnificent Seven
Augustana has seven wrestlers competing for national titles in 2012. Nate Herda, who claimed the Super Region Three 149-pound championship, is participating at nationals for the third time. Jason Jeremiason, the 133-pound runner-up at Super Region Three, has earned a national championship berth for the second time. Chism Fink (141), Cody Lensing (125), Carl Serck (174), Sean Derry (197) and Jayd Docken (184) are making their initial appearances at nationals. Fink was a Super Region Three runner-up; Lensing, Serck, and Derry all finished third; and Docken was fourth.

Looking to advance
Nate Herda has qualified for nationals in each of his three seasons with the Vikings. The 149-pounder has advanced with each appearance, placing fourth in 2010 and third in 2011. Jason Jeremiason, the only other Viking qualifier with national experience, placed third at nationals a year ago.

Opening round
125 – Cody Lensing (15-5) vs. Garrett Evans (22-7), Ouachita Baptist
133 – Jason Jeremiason (17-3) vs. Julian Perez (20-14), San Francisco State
141 – Chism Fink (12-3) vs. Aaron Smith (17-7), American International
149 – Nate Herda (21-2) vs. Jeremy Espinoza (10-8), Findlay
174 – Carl Serck (25-3) vs. Kelly Henderson (18-10), Central Oklahoma
184 – Jayd Docken (20-8) vs. Nick Peterson (26-11), Central Missouri
197 – Sean Derry (18-12) vs. Shane Nolan (20-4), North Carolina-Pembroke

National history
Augustana wrestling, which has the most NCAA postseason appearances of any program in school history at 40, has 17 top-10 national finishes on its resume. The Vikings’ top finishes came with runner-up performances in 1976-77, 2004-05 and 2009-10. For the complete breakdown, click here.

Reitmeier at nationals
Head coach Jason Reitmeier has finished second twice and third once at the NCAA Championships. He’s never finished worse than 21st. Here’s the breakdown:
2003-04 6th
2004-05 2nd
2005-06 7th
2006-07 9th
2007-08 t-17th
2008-09 21st
2009-10 2nd
2010-11 3rd

A top-eight finish at the NCAA Championships secures a wrestler All-America honors. Augustana has produced 106 All-Americans, including three at the Division I level. Thirty-eight of those have come under the guidance of Jason Reitmeier. Jason Jeremiason and Nate Herda are both returning All-America performers.

Last season
Augustana also sent seven wreslters to the NCAA Championships a year ago and returned with third-place honors. All seven of those Vikings earned All-America citations at the tournament held in Kearney, Neb.

The trip
The Vikings will bus the 800-mile trek to Pueblo, Colo., for the NCAA Championships. The team is scheduled to depart Wednesday afternoon. Pueblo, a town of approximately 107,000, is situated 113 miles south of Denver on the front range of the Rocky Mountains and is one of the largest steel-producing cities in the United States.

Double-figure wins
Jason Reitmeier guided his team to 10 dual wins for the third-consecutive season and fifth time in his career. Reitmeier went 13-3 this season, 14-2 a year ago and 11-6 in 2009-10. Other years in double-figure wins for the ninth-year head coach include 2004-05 (14-2) and 2005-06 (12-5).

NSIC honors
Augustana has had one NSIC Wrestler of the Week this season. Jayd Docken earned the honor on Dec. 5.
Date Wrestler
Dec. 5 Jayd Docken

National news
Augustana fell one spot to sixth in the final national poll released Feb. 28 by the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association. The Vikings earned 127 points. St. Cloud State garnered all eight first-place votes and 160 points to keep its top spot in the rankings. To view the complete poll, click here.

Date Rk
Oct. 26 (Preseason) 6th
Dec. 7 6th
Jan. 11 5th
Jan. 25 3rd
Feb. 8 5th
Feb. 22 5th
Feb. 28 6th

Individual rankings
Six Augustana wrestlers are individually ranked in the top eight in the nation in their respective weight classes.

Ranking Wrestler Wt.
No. 1 Nate Herda 149
No. 2 Jason Jeremiason 133
No. 3 Chism Fink 141
No. 4 Carl Serck 174

According to the coaches
Augustana was picked third in the 2011-12 NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Vikings, who are the defending conference champions, collected 44 points in the poll. St. Cloud State, the national preseason favorite, was the top choice in the NSIC with 55 points. The Huskies narrowly edged out Upper Iowa, which collected 54 points.

1. St. Cloud State 55
2. Upper Iowa 54
3. Augustana 44
4. Minnesota State 32
5. U-Mary 20
6. MSU Moorhead 17
7. Northern State 11
8. Southwest Minnesota State 7

Coaches’ corner
2011-12 marks Jason Reitmeier’s ninth season as the head coach of the Augustana wrestling program. A former Viking wrestler, Reitmeier has mentored 39 All-Americans and guided his teams to six top-10 national finishes. He is assisted by Tom Meester, Mike Long, Brett Lutmer, Nate Buys, Al Meger and Jeremie Degen.

Of Augustana’s seven All-America honorees last season, three return. Jason Jeremiason (133), Nate Herda (149) and Marcus Edgington (157) are all back for the 2011-12 season.

A look back
Last season, Augustana finished third and had seven All-America honorees at the NCAA Championship. The Vikings, who took second at the Super Regional Three Championship, finished the dual season with a record of 14-2 and were the NSIC champions with a flawless 7-0 conference campaign.