Vikings’ North and Docken embark on title hunt in Cleveland

Augustana sends fourth-year wrestlers TJ North and Jayd Docken to the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, Ohio on March 14 and 15. North is coming off winning the NCAA Super Region III 125-Pound Championship two weeks ago while Docken punched his ticket to the national meet with a third-place finish at the regional at 197 pounds.

Augustana VikingsPath to the title: Vikings tasked with tough bouts
Augustana’s two national qualifiers both have favorable first-round matchups, but will be tested throughout the bracket.

Redshirt sophomore TJ North begins his title hunt against Patrick Mestrez of Belmont Abbey. North owns a 30-3 record, the best winning percentage mark in the bracket, while Mestrez comes in with a 13-14mark, the only losing record in the 16-wrestler, 125-pound field. Win or lose, North’s opponent will be either Jeff Vesta (28-9) of Newberry or Erick Rangel (22-7) of New Mexico Highlands, neither of which carry a national ranking into the NCAA Championships.

With the No. 3 ranking, North has three ranked opponents on his half of the bracket in No. 2 Skylor Davis of Simon Fraser (Can.), No. 5 Dave Fogle of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, and No. 8 Alex Johns of Indianapolis.

North has a 6-0 record this season against wrestlers in the field. Of those victories, three have come against ranked opponents — No. 7 Ben Sergent of Findlay and UIndy’s Johns at the Ranger Duals on Jan. 18 and a win over now-No. 6 Garrett Evans of Ouachita Baptist in the region final.

Redshirt junior Jayd Docken also has a favorable first-round bout, but the 197-pounder’s competition will stiffen quickly and include some familiar faces. Docken will face Paco Retana of Colorado Mesa in the first round on Friday. With a 17-3 record, Docken is tied with three wrestlers for the fewest losses in the 197-pound field. Retana owns a 14-8 mark, the lowest winning percentage in the 16-wrestler bracket. Win or lose, Docken will face either No. 3 Julian Smith (39-7) of McKendree or Kenny Breaux (14-5) of Lindenwood. Smith handed Docken’s first loss of the season by way of 3-2 decision at the Ranger Duals on Jan. 18.

Other ranked wrestlers on Docken’s half of the bracket include No. 2 Carl Broghammer of Upper Iowa and No. 4 Zachary Bennett of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. Docken’s record against the ranked opponents this season is 0-3 with two losses coming against Broghammer and the other against Smith. Two of those losses, one against each opponent, have come by a one-point margin.

Tough region gets the best of Augustana
Augustana managed to advance six wrestlers to day two of the NCAA Super Region III Championships, but the loaded region put an end to all but two Vikings’ season.

TJ North, Bradyn Neises, Sean Derry, and Jayd Docken all posted 2-0 marks on day one to advance in the championship bracket while Morgan Engbrecht and Parker Swanson rebounded from losses to stay alive in the wrestleback. Engbrecht (133) and Swanson (174) were then force to pack their bags in the consolation quarterfinals by two Southwest Minnesota State wrestlers who both qualified for the NCAA Championships.

North was the lone Viking to remain in the championship bracket with a decision win, placing him in the 125-pound title bout. North would then grab the victory with a decision win over then-No. 6 Garrett Evans of Ouachita Baptist.

Docken rebounded nicely from his narrow loss to national No. 2 Carl Broghammer of Upper Iowa, winning a tight 3-2 decision, securing a spot in the regional third-place bout and a return to the NCAA Championships.

After suffering their first losses, Neises (157) and Derry (184) were dealt a second defeat, sending them to the fifth-place bout where a win could earn them bids to join North and Docken. Neises run, which included a victory over then No. 4 Chase White of Nebraska-Kearney, came to an end with a major decision loss for th redshirt junior. Derry’s bout pitted him against the current fifth-ranked 184-pound wrestler for a chance to advance to the NCAA Championships. In heartbreaking fashion, Derry’s career at Augustana was finished with a 4-3 loss in the second tiebreaker.

As a team, the Vikings finished ninth with 53.5 points, fourth among Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams.

College Tournament Time