CLEVELAND – Augustana’s TJ North came one win shy of earning a national title as the redshirt sophomore lost in the 125-pound title match at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships on Saturday. North advanced to the title bout with a decision win in the semifinals before dropping a 7-4 decision to seventh-ranked Ben Sergent of Findlay in the final, but still earned All-American honors for the first time.
A five-point surge by Sergent at the end of the first period put North behind 5-1 entering the second where he would get one back on an escape. North was the victim of a takedown with one minute left in the first period and Sergent scored a three-point nearfall before North was able to escape.
Down 5-2 entering the third period, Sergent earned a point on an escape after electing to start the final stanza on bottom. North then pulled within two points by scoring a quick takedown, then cut Sergent, giving the Findlay 125-pounder a 7-4 lead which would hold.
This was the first Division II loss on the season for North who finishes his 2013-14 campaign with a 33-4 record, 22-1 against Division II competitors. North logged a win over Sergent on Jan. 18 at the Ranger Duals helping the Vikings to a 34-9 win over the Oilers.
North earned his spot in the championship bout with a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Dave Fogle in the semifinals. The third win of the national tournament gave North a 24-match winning streak that was snapped in the title tilt.
The Elk Point, S.D. native scored a first-period takedown and rode out fifth-ranked Fogle for a 2-0 lead entering the second period. North’s riding time was erased as he started the second period on bottom, but with just seven seconds left in the second period, he countered Fogle’s attempt to turn him with a reversal, going ahead 4-0.
Fogle chose the top position entering the third period and accrued enough riding time to secure a point at the midway mark of the final period. North continued to deter Fogle’s attempts at turning him to score ground points and he earned a spot in the final by way of 4-1 decision.
North becomes the 111th Viking to earn All-American honors and 43rd Augustana wrestler to do so under the direction of head coach Jason Reitmeier. North’s three wins and second-place finish supplied the Vikings with two 16 team points which places the Vikings in 24th among the 36 teams with entrants.