Johnnies Set to Face Familiar Foes This Weekend, Host Augsburg Sunday

The nationally-ranked Saint John’s wrestling team continues its tour against former MIAC foes with a 7 p.m. dual tonight at St. Olaf and returns home to host No. 7 Augsburg at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, in Sexton Arena.

Saint John's JohnniesA LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: No. 21 Saint John’s wrestling (8-10 dual record) built an early 9-4 lead on No. 6 Concordia-Moorhead before the Cobbers won five of the final six matches in a 23-12 loss on Tuesday (Feb. 11) in Moorhead. Senior Alex Peck (Edina, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s) put SJU on the scoreboard with an 11-4 decision, one point from a major, at 133 pounds. Sophomore Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) gave up the match-tying takedown with 20 seconds left, only to score a two-point reversal with six seconds remaining and earn an 8-6 win at 141 pounds. Junior Joe Hessing (Loretto, Minn./Delano) used a pair of five-point moves (a takedown and three-point near-fall) and held on for a 14-13 upset of Jake Long, ranked as high as fifth nationally by (No. 7 by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association) at 149 pounds. The win gave the Johnnies a 9-4 lead, but Concordia (15-4 dual record) won each of the next four matches. Senior Ryan Arne (Orono, Minn.), ranked No. 10 by the NWCA, fell by a 4-0 score at 157 pounds. The loss was just his fifth of the season (17-5 record). The Cobbers eked out a close 7-5 win over senior Brandon Seppelt (Foley, Minn.) at 165 pounds and earned a major decision at 174. Sophomore Josh Willaert (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) lost a 4-1 lead via a pair of wild scrambles, involving back points, and lost by an 11-7 score at 184 pounds. Junior Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.) ended the drought for SJU with a 4-0 shutout at 197 pounds, but the Cobbers’ Cody Kasprick, ranked as high as fourth nationally by the NWCA, ended the dual with a pin of senior John Scepaniak (Avon, Minn./Holdingford) in 1:02.

SJU’s PROBABLE LINEUP: Here is SJU’s probable lineup for tonight’s dual against the Oles:
-125: Sophomore Alex Rod (0-15 record) or sophomore John Wells (9-10 record)
-133: Senior Alex Peck (9-6 record)
-141: Sophomore Ben Henle (16-8 record)
-149: Junior Joe Hessing (17-9 record)
-157: Senior Ryan Arne, ranked No. 10 (17-5 record)
-165: Senior Brandon Seppelt (7-15 record)
-174: Freshman Teddy Erickson (8-13 record)
-184: Sophomore Josh Willaert (10-7 record)
-197: Junior Ryan Michaelis (12-8 record)
-285: Senior John Scepaniak (10-10 record)

A LOOK AT THE OLES: St. Olaf (2-4 dual record) boasts two nationally-ranked wrestlers: senior James Roach (23-2 record), No. 2 by both the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) and at 174 pounds; and sophomore Zach Gibson (19-2 record), No. 6 by at heavyweight. Both of Roach’s losses were against non-Division III student-athletes, while both of Gibson’s losses were against regional powers, top-ranked Chad Johnson of Augsburg and No. 3 (NWCA) Cody Kasprick of Concordia-Moorhead.

ST. OLAF’S PROBABLE LINEUP: The Oles are expected to forfeit the first three weight classes tonight.
-125: Open
-133: Open
-141: Open
-149: Sophomore Adam Woitalla (11-12 record)
-157: Junior Carl Elmer (13-4 record)
-165: Senior Alex Evan (10-13 record)
-174: Senior James Roach (23-2 record)
-184: Sophomore Hugh Ellerman (1-4 record)
-197: Sophomore Robert Caulfield (5-13 record)
-285: Sophomore Zach Gibson (19-2 record)

LAST YEAR: Saint John’s won four of its last five matches to defeat St. Olaf 26-12 on last Dec. 6 (2012) in Collegeville. Wesley Azariah gave St. Olaf an early 3-0 lead with 9-8 win over sophomore John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton) at 125 pounds. Wells entered the third period with a 6-5 lead and riding time, but Azariah tallied a two-point near fall late to earn the win. SJU picked up a pin at 133 and junior Evan Guffey (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) added to the lead with a 2-1 win at 141. The Oles cut into the lead at 149 pounds and tied it with a wild 13-11 overtime win from Jacob Bohler at 157 pounds. Arne led 7-3 after the first period but Bohler’s late takedown, plus riding time, sent the match to overtime (11-11) and another takedown 19 seconds in gave him the victory. Chris Stevermer ’13 pinned his opponent in 4:24 and Nick Schuler ’13 edged James Roach with an 8-7 decision after gaining an 8-1 lead in the second period. Both wrestlers pumped up a weight class for the evening’s matches. Mitch Hagen ’13, the sixth-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds (NWCA), gained a technical fall in 5:10 (22-7). Michaelis earned a 3-1 win at 197 pounds before the Oles’ Zach Gibson handed sophomore Matt Kadrlik (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley) his first loss of the season, 7-3.

SERIES vs. STO: Going back to the 1990-91 season, SJU is 21-0 against St. Olaf and has outscored the Oles 796-179 during that span.

A LOOK AT THE AUGGIES: No. 7 Augsburg (6-5 dual record) ended a five-dual losing skid with a 16-15 win, by criteria (total match points), at No. 13 Wisconsin-La Crosse Thursday (Feb. 13) night. The Auggies currently tout three active wrestlers in the national rankings: No. 4/5 Mike Fuenffinger (25-3 record) at 125 pounds, No. 5/7 Matt Hechsel (25-7 record) at 197 and No. 1 Chad Johnson (25-1 record), the two-time defending national champion, at heavyweight. No. 8/9 Kirk Anderson (8-5 record) has not wrestled since the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Jan. 11-12.

Augsburg at Saint John’s Live Video

LAST YEAR’S MATCHUP: 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).

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