WATERLOO, Iowa — Minnesota State University Moorhead junior Angel Vega (141 pounds) qualified for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championship as a result of his performance at the Super Regional 3 tournament Sunday in Waterloo, Iowa.
Vega finished 3-2 and took fourth place at 141 pounds, qualifying him for the national meet, where he will represent the Dragons on March 8-9 in Birmingham, Ala. The top four finishers in each weight division qualified for the national championship.
Vega, who is now a team-best 25-13 on the year, had an outstanding day on his path to nationals. He opened with a 5-4 win over No. 4 seed Tyrell Galloway of Maryville, and then beat No. 5 seed Brandon Charbonneau of Augustana, 4-2. In the semifinals, he lost to top seed Trevor Johnson of Mary in a tough 2-0 decision.
The junior then rebounded with a win over Ian Muirhead of Northern State, 9-3, to advance to the third-place match. He lost the match (14-6 major decision) to St. Cloud State’s Matt Nelson, who was the No. 2 seed, but the fourth-place finish clinched his trip to nationals.
“Angel Vega wrestled very tough today,” MSUM head coach Kris Nelson said. “He started off the day unseeded and beat the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds before falling in the semis. He then won his wrestleback match before losing for third but overall had a very good day to reach the nationals.”
Junior Philippe Walker was the other Dragon to place on Sunday, taking sixth at 133 pounds with a 3-3 mark to finish the year with a 21-12 mark. Seeded fourth, Walker beat Travis Rodenbaugh of Newman, 4-3 in the opening round before losing a tough 5-3 decision to Southwest Minnesota State’s Justin Reinsma in the quarterfinals. Walker rebounded with two straight wins in the consolation bracket – a pin of Northern State’s Tyler Frost in 5:43 and a 9-5 decision win over Josh Douglas of Minot State – to advance. Walker lost to Alphonso Vruno of Minnesota State, 6-2, in the consolation semifinals, and was pinned by Terrell McKinney of Maryville in the fifth-place match.
While no other Dragon placed, several won matches in their respective weight classes.
At 125 pounds, freshman Mitch Dunlap finished solid 2-2 on the day. He opened with a 9-7 win over Mary’s Jordan Eckholm before being pinned by No. 1 seed Alex Johns of Indianapolis in 1:37. In the consolation bracket, Dunlap earned an 8-3 win over Southwest Minnesota State’s Ed Reno but was elminated by Chris Paulus of Upper Iowa, 12-4. Dunlap finished his debut season with a 9-16 mark.
Junior Casey Williams had an opening-round bye at 149 pounds but lost to Maryville’s Keenan Hagerty — the No. 3 seed — in the quarterfinals, 11-5. Williams earned a 5-1 win in the consolation bracket over SMSU’s Beau Buysse but was eliminated by Landon Della Silva of Mary, 4-1. Williams finished the season with a solid 16-8 record.
Senior Jacob Bennett had a first-round bye but lost a tough 9-6 decision to No. 3 seed Bryce Lumzy of Upper Iowa in the quarterfinals. Bennett responded with a 14-6 win over No. 5 seed Bryce Givens of Indianapolis in the consolation bracket before being eliminated by No. 1 seed Dillon Bera of Wisconsin-Parkside, 12-7. Bennett finished the season with a 11-10 record.
Redshirt freshman Jesse Puncochar lost to No. 5 seed Nick Burghardt of Maryville in the first round at 174 pounds by a 6-0 decision. He came back with an 11-2 win over Anthony Navarro of Northern State before being eliminated by No. 6 seed Shelby Mappes of Indianapolis, 8-1. Puncochar finished a solid season with a 14-10 mark.
Redshirt freshman Lucas Moderow went 1-2 at 184 pounds. He lost his first match to Ryan Beitz of Maryville, 5-2, but bounced back with a 6-5 win over Cody George of Minot State. He was eliminated by George Lopez of Indianapolis, 6-3 in the next round of the consolation bracket. Moderow finished 11-21 on the year.
At 197 pounds, junior Matt Lewellen was pinned in the first round by No. 3 seed Jay Docken of Augustana in 2:46. He came back with a pin of SMSU’s Micah Larson in 1:34 in the first round of the consolation bracket but was eliminated by No. 5 seed Taylor Scott of Indianapolis, 4-2. Lewellen finished the year at 18-15.
“It was the first time for some of our wrestlers at this tournament,” Nelson said. “We gained some good experience.”
Senior Kerron Williams went 0-2 at 165 pounds and was eliminated. He finished the year at 10-12. Sophomore Gerad Fugleberg went 0-2 at 285 pounds and finished the season at 17-15.
Vega will compete at the national championship on March 8-9 in Birmingham, Ala.
125-Mitch Dunlap (2-2)
–dec. Jordan Eckholm (Mary), 9-7
–pinned by Austin Johns (Indianapolis), 1:37
–dec. Ed Reno (SMSU), 8-3
–lost to Chris Paulus (Upper Iowa), 12-4, eliminated
133-Philippe Walker (3-3), 6th place
–dec. Travis Rodenbaugh (Newman), 4-3
–lost to Justin Reinsma (SMSU), 5-3
–pinned Tyler Frost (Northern), 5:43
–dec. Josh Douglas (Minot), 9-5
–lost to Alphonso Bruno (MSU), 6-2
–pinned by McKinney (Maryville)
141-Angel Vega (3-2), 4th place
–dec. Tyrell Galloway (Maryville), 5-4
–dec. Brandon Charbonneau (Augustana), 4-2
–lost to Trevor Johnson (Mary), 2-0
–dec. Ian Muirhead (Northern), 9-3
–lost to Matt Nelson (St. Cloud State), 14-6
149-Casey Williams (1-2)
–lost to Keenan Hagerty (Maryville), 11-5
–dec. Beau Buysse (SMSU), 5-1
–lost to Landon Della Silva (Mary), 4-1, eliminated
157-Jacob Bennett (1-2)
–lost to Bryce Lumzy (Upper Iowa), 9-6
–dec. Bryce Givens (Indianapolis), 14-6
–lost to Dillon Bera (UW-Parkside), 12-7, eliminated
165-Kerron Williams (0-2)
–lost to Wade Gobin (Upper Iowa), 3-1
–lost to Blake Lundgren (Northern), 5-3, eliminated
174-Jesse Puncochar (1-2)
–lost to Nick Burghardt (Maryville), 6-0
–major dec. Anthony Navarro (Northern), 11-2
–lost to Shelby Mappes (Indianapolis), 8-1, eliminated
184-Lucas Moderow (1-2)
–lost to Ryan Beitz (Maryville), 5-2
–dec. Cody George (Minot State), 6-5
–lost to George Lopez (Indianapolis), 6-3, eliminated
197-Matt Lewellen (1-2)
–pinned by Jayd Docken (Augie), 2:46
–pinned Micah Larson (SMSU), 1:34
–lost to Taylor Scott (Indianapolis), 4-2, eliminated
285-Gerad Fugleberg (0-2)
–pinned by Morgan Denson (Maryville), 5:44
–lost to Brian Schultz (Augie), 5-3, eliminated