St. John’s visits La Crosse Saturday for four duals

Nationally-ranked Saint John’s travels across the border for the Wisconsin-La Crosse Duals this Saturday, Dec. 1. The Johnnies are scheduled to face No. 9 Wisconsin-Stevens Point (9 a.m.), Cornell of Iowa (10:45 a.m.), No. 5 La Crosse (12:30 p.m.) and Wisconsin-Eau Claire (2 p.m.).

Saint John's JohnniesA LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s tallied 13 top-six finishes and a pair of consolation titles at the Augsburg Open Nov. 17, in Minneapolis. Sophomore Dalton Sowers (Long Lake, Minn./Delano) posted a 3-1 record to claim second in the 133-pound gold bracket. He lost the championship bout by a 9-5 score to Augsburg’s Tossaporn Suparat, the eighth-ranked wrestler in the country. Junior Alex Peck (Edina, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s), meanwhile, went 2-1 in the same bracket before falling in the consolation championship. Senior Chris Stevermer (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake), ranked No. 10, finished second at 157 pounds with a 3-1 record. Freshman John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton) went 3-0 to win the 125-pound silver bracket, including a convincing 16-3 major-decision victory in the championship match. Senior Charlie Kirscht (Garfield, Minn./Alexandria) took second in the silver bracket at 149, while freshmen Aaron Baker (Lakeville, Minn.) and Rusty Grisim (Lake City, Minn.) followed their opening-round loss with three straight wins to win the silver consolation title at 184 and 174, respectively.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Despite its 33-7 win over Northwestern (Iowa) in the season opener Nov. 16, SJU fell from No. 23 to No. 25 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) team rankings released Nov. 20. Stevermer is currently ranked eighth according to d3wrestle.com and ninth in the NWCA rankings at 157 pounds. Senior Mitch Hagen (Sunburg, Minn./Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg) is ranked 10th by d3wrestle.com at 184 pounds and junior Nick Schuler (Roseville, Minn./Totino-Grace) is still listed as a “contender” at 165 pounds. Hagen went 1-2 at the Augsburg Open Nov. 17, while Schuler did not compete.

A LOOK AT THE POINTERS: Wisconsin-Stevens Point is ranked ninth by the NWCA and is 3-0 with all three victories exceeding a differential of 30 points: Nov. 8 at Lakeland of Wis. (40-7), Nov. 14 vs. Wisconsin-Eau Claire (40-6) and Nov. 27 vs. Wisconsin-Oshkosh (32-10). Senior Jordan Schulte (165 lbs.) is currently fifth by the NWCA and eighth by d3wrestle.com, while senior Jordan Kust (141 lbs.) is currently ranked 10th by both polls. Senior Ryan Conat is listed fifth (NWCA) and seventh (d3wrestle.com) at 174 pounds, and sophomore Jordan Kopranda is seventh according to the NWCA at heavyweight. The Johnnies are 4-0 all-time against the Pointers.

A LOOK AT THE RAMS: Cornell is currently 2-1, including a 1-1 record against a pair of Division I schools in No. 4 Iowa and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Nov. 24. The Rams are led by junior Alex Coolidge, who is currently ranked fourth (NWCA) and fifth (d3wrestle.com) at 197 pounds. Coolidge earned the sole points (9-8) for the Rams in their 49-3 loss to the Hawkeyes and also scored the key win (5-2) to solidify Cornell’s 21-20 victory over Southern Illinois. SJU is 5-3 against the Rams in the last eight meetings, though Cornell has won the last two (25-20 and 21-15). Each of the last matchups were decided by six points or less (2-3 record).

A LOOK AT THE EAGLES: Wisconsin-La Crosse currently holds a 4-1 dual record and is ranked fifth nationally. The Eagles’ lone loss was a 16-15 decision to fourth-ranked Coe (Iowa) in the season opener Nov. 9. La Crosse returns three NCAA Division III All-Americans from last season. A two-time All-American at 133 pounds (fifth in 2010 and sixth in 2011), senior Adam Sheley bumped up to 141 and is ranked No. 1 according to d3wrestle.com and No. 2 by the NWCA. Junior Kevin O’Brien returns at 165 pounds following his first career All-America honor with a fourth-place finish last spring and is currently ranked sixth by d3wrestle and ninth by the NWCA. Senior Billy Mayer is a two-time All-American at heavyweight. He claimed fifth last season and sixth in 2011. Mayer is listed third in the nation by both sets of rankings. In addition to the three All-Americans, the Eagles also boast sophomore Eric Twohey, who is ranked third by d3wrestle.com and sixth by NWCA at 184 pounds, and junior Tony Piechowski, who is ranked ninth by d3wrestle.com at 197 pounds. SJU is 1-8 against La Crosse, though the last four duals were decided by five points or less (1-3 record).

A LOOK AT THE BLUGOLDS: Aside from its 40-6 loss to Stevens Point Nov. 14, Wisconsin-Eau Claire had three wrestlers compete and place in the gold bracket of Nov. 17’s Augsburg Open: freshman Zackary Sirny (fourth at 125), freshman Nathan Behnke (fifth at 141) and junior Luke Ortscheid (sixth at 197). The Johnnies have won 16 of the last 17 meetings with UWEC. SJU will face the Blugolds later this season at the Concordia (Wis.) Duals Jan. 12 in Mequon, Wis.

LAST YEAR: Saint John’s posted a 2-1 record at last year’s Wisconsin-La Crosse Duals. The then-No. 6 Johnnies started the morning with a 28-12 win over then-No. 25 Wisconsin-Stevens Point before falling to then-No. 5 Cornell, 21-15. SJU ended the day with a 26-12 win over Loras (Iowa). SJU claimed six wins against Stevens Point, including four major decisions and a pin. The tide turned, however, as Cornell (Iowa) won five of its first six matches against the Johnnies. SJU lost three matches by two points or less. Stevermer suffered a tough 6-5 loss to No. 2 Nicholas Loughlin at 157 pounds and junior Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) dropped a 4-2 decision to No. 4 Joe Hambleton at 165. Schuler, who was then ranked sixth at 165 pounds, posted a 10-2 major decision at 174. Hagen lost a tough 4-3 decision at 197.

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