SJU Wrestling Ranked No. 17, Two Johnnies in Top 10

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – The Saint John’s wrestling team entered the national top 20, while six Johnnies received recognition in the and National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings released Nov. 27.

SJU moved up in both rankings after a strong performance at its season opener, the annual Augsburg Open, Nov. 23. The Johnnies placed seven in the top five of their respective weight classes, six of which posted a 3-1 record on the day. Previously ranked at No. 20, SJU moved up to No. 18 in the NWCA rankings and entered the rankings for the first time this season in a tie at No. 17.

Saint John's JohnniesFollowing his impressive performance at the Auggie Open, sophomore Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) cracked the top 10 at fifth (NWCA) and sixth ( at 141 pounds. He started the season with an upset of the then-top-ranked wrestler in NCAA Division III, Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Nathaniel Behnke, by an 8-7 score at 141 pounds and tallied a 9-3 decision over Upper Iowa’s Duane Richardson. Henle then posted a lopsided 18-8 major decision over then-No. 6 Tom Kuehn of Augsburg in the semifinals. Henle, who posted a 12-7 record as a freshman for SJU last season, fell to Upper Iowa’s Jordan Roths by a 7-4 decision in the championship match.

A returning national entrant, senior Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.) dropped one spot from seventh to eighth at 157 pounds according to the NWCA and is now No. 10 in the rankings. He started his season with a pin and a technical fall before defeating Zak Benitz of Division II Upper Iowa by a 6-3 decision in the semifinals. Arne fell to Augsburg’s Will Keeter, who is ranked as high as fifth at 157, by a 6-3 score in the title bout to take second.

Four other Johnnies were listed as “Contenders” by, just outside the top 10: junior Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.) at 197 pounds, senior John Scepaniak (Avon, Minn./Holdingford) at heavyweight, sophomore John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton) at 125 pounds (2-2 record) and sophomore Josh Willaert (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) at 184 pounds (3-1 record).

Michaelis dropped from No. 10 by (Oct. 24). Fresh off a successful football season, Michaelis and Scepaniak have yet to compete on the mat this year.

Rankings: NWCA Team | NWCA Individual |

The Johnnies return to action with a dual at Division II St. Cloud State at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Halenbeck Hall in St. Cloud.

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