No. 22 Saint John’s wrestling hosts No. 4 Augsburg for a 1 p.m. dual this Sunday, Jan. 26, at Sexton Arena in Collegeville.
Saint John’s (7-8 dual record) returns to the mat after going 1-2 at the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA)/Cliff Keen Division III National Duals on Jan. 11 in Des Moines, Iowa. Both losses were to top-five programs. SJU started the day with a 27-12 loss to No. 5 Wilkes (Pa.) and defeated Centenary (N.J.) 27-23 before ending the day, and the dual tournament, with a 21-19 loss to No. 3 Wabash (Ind.).
Wilkes jumped out to an 8-0 lead before sophomore Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) put SJU on the scoreboard with a 6-5 decision at 141 pounds. With the match tied at 4-4, Henle picked up a point for riding time and another for stalling in the third period. The Colonels picked up their second technical fall of the dual at 149 pounds before senior Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.) turned heads with a 4-3 upset of Kris Krawchuck, last year’s national runner-up and the second-ranked wrestler at 157. Down 2-0 entering the third period, Arne tallied a takedown and a two-point near-fall to earn the victory. A 10-7 lead escaped senior Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) late in an 11-10 loss at 165 pounds and the skid continued for the Johnnies until senior John Scepaniak (Avon, Minn./Holdingford) posted a pin at the 3:27 mark in a match between two national qualifiers from last season.
Sophomore John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton), on the cusp of earning a technical fall, started the dual against unranked Centenary with a win via injury default at 125 pounds. The Cyclones gained a 7-6 lead before junior Joe Hessing (Loretto, Minn./Delano) and Arne recorded back-to-back pins to give the Johnnies an 18-7 lead. CC answered with a major decision and two pins of their own to take a 23-18 lead with two matches left. Junior Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.) earned a solid 4-0 win at 197 pounds to cut the Johnnies’ deficit to two before sophomore Matt Kadrlik (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley) brought the win home with a pin at heavyweight.
SJU built a 10-3 lead over Wabash, but the third-ranked Little Giants, sparked by an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on SJU following Arne’s match at 157 pounds, won four straight matches to build a 21-10 lead. Arne fell in his match, 5-2, to third-ranked Reece Lefever. When SJU head coach Brandon Novak questioned as to why Arne was not awarded back points, the referee issued the penalty and awarded Wabash an additional team point. Michaelis earned a decision at 197 pounds and Scepaniak closed the dual with another pin.
TOP COMPETITION: Sunday’s dual is the ninth for SJU against a nationally-ranked opponent, in which the Johnnies have a 2-6 record against, this season. The Auggies serve as the Johnnies’ fifth opponent ranked in the top five (0-4 record).
A LOOK AT THE AUGGIES: Augsburg (5-3 dual record) enters tonight’s home contest against Division II Augustana (S.D.) riding a three-dual losing streak, including a pair of losses to No. 2 Concordia-Moorhead. The Auggies currently have four nationally-ranked wrestlers: No. 2 Mike Fuenffinger (16-2 record) at 125 pounds; No. 6/8 Kirk Anderson (8-5 record) at 133; No. 2/6 Matt Hechsel (19-2 record) at 197; and No. 1 Chad Johnson (18-1 record) at heavyweight. Hechsel and Johnson tallied decisions, the Auggies’ lone wins on the night, in the 26-6 loss to the Cobbers Jan. 18.
LAST YEAR: Saint John’s won seven matches in a 23-10 upset of then-No. 7 Augsburg last Jan. 26 (2013) in Minneapolis. Wells started the dual in fine fashion with a 9-7 upset of Fuenffinger, the sixth-ranked wrestler in NCAA Division III at 125 pounds. Chris Stevermer ’13 started a string of five consecutive match wins with a 3-2 victory at 157 pounds. Nick Schuler ’13 improved to 10-1 with a 10-2 major decision at 165 pounds, while sophomore Josh Willaert (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) earned a 4-1 win over Josh Kohler in triple overtime at 174. Mitch Hagen ’13, the fourth-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, posted a major decision of his own, 12-4. Michaelis tallied a 5-2 win at 197 pounds to improve to 7-2 on the year. The top-ranked heavyweight in Division III, Johnson ended the dual with a 13-2 major decision for Augsburg.
SERIES HISTORY: Last year’s win ended a three-dual skid for SJU against the Auggies since its 18-13 upset victory on Nov. 26, 2008, in Minneapolis. The three losses were decided by a combined 12 points (19-15 in 2009-10, 20-19 in 2010-11 and 23-16 in 2011-12). The win in 2008 snapped a 22-match losing streak to Augsburg, as well as the Auggies’ 70-match winning streak over Minnesota Division II and III opponents (since 1996) and their streak of 92 consecutive wins over Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes (since the 1986-87 season).