Saint John’s wrestling returns to action Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Chicago Duals. SJU is scheduled to face Dubuque (1 p.m.), No. 2 Wabash (2:45 p.m.) and Manchester (4:30 p.m.).
A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s (1-7 dual record) went 1-3 at the Gator Duals on Dec. 20 in Nashville, Tenn. The Johnnies started the day with a 34-20 loss to Simpson (Iowa) before bouncing back with a 39-12 win over Washington and Lee (Va.), the first dual victory for interim head coach Tony Willaert ’11. SJU, which forfeited its match at 165 pounds in all four duals, then lost its final two bouts to nationally-ranked opponents: 27-17 to No. 3 Delaware Valley (Pa.) and 40-3 to No. 18 Johnson & Wales (R.I.).
Simpson tallied four pins, a forfeit and a major decision to hand SJU a 34-20 defeat in the first dual of the day. Junior John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton) earned a forfeit win at 125 pounds and classmate Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer), who is ranked eighth nationally by D3wrestle.com, collected a technical fall at 141 pounds to give SJU an 11-6 lead. The Storm won the next five matches to clinch the victory before the Johnnies claimed the final two bouts. Senior Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.) won his first match of the season, delayed due to the Johnnies’ playoff run in football, in fine fashion with a pin in 1:52. A two-time national entrant, Michaelis is ranked ninth by D3wrestle.com. Sophomore Colin Fisher (Eagan, Minn.) ended the dual with a 6-2 win at heavyweight.
The tides turned for SJU in its second dual of the day as the Johnnies, aided by three forfeits, jumped out to a 30-0 lead over Washington and Lee. Henle and seniorJesse Rogers (Dillingham, Alaska/Mt. Edgecumbe) tallied back-to-back pins at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively. Sophomore Teddy Erickson (Annandale, Minn.) earned an 8-3 decision at 174 pounds and junior Matt Kadrlik (Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley) closed it out with a pin at heavyweight.
Wells started the dual with third-ranked Delaware Valley with a close 4-2 loss to Connor Kirkegard, who is ranked as high as sixth nationally at 125 pounds. Henle collected another win, an 8-0 major decision, but the Aggies won each of the next five matches (a pin, forfeit and three major decisions). Michaelis stopped the bleeding with a major decision of his own, 10-1, at 197 pounds and Fisher earned his second win of the day, via pin, at heavyweight to end the dual.
Wells lost a heartbreaker on a last-second takedown to ninth-ranked Bobby Jordan to start the dual with Johnson & Wales. Henle moved to 4-0 on the day and put SJU on the scoreboard with a 6-3 decision at 141 pounds. The Wildcats responded, however, with wins in the final seven matches.
BACK AT IT: A two-time national entrant who is ranked as high as ninth nationally at 197 pounds by D3wrestle.com, Michaelis started his 2014-15 season with a pair of bonus-point wins (pin and major decision) in Nashville. His return to the mat was delayed due to SJU football’s postseason run. Michaelis appeared in all 12 games for the Johnnies and tallied 19 tackles (11 solo), including 3.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries at defensive end.
WIN STREAK: Henle tallied each of the four possible bout decisions on the day: a decision (6-3), major decision (8-0), technical fall (18-2) and pin (4:44) to improve to 14-4 on the season, with all four losses to Division I or Division II student-athletes. He has won each of his last eight matches (two decisions, two major decisions, a technical fall, two pins and a forfeit).
NATIONAL RANKINGS: The National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings released Dec. 9, which listed junior Josh Willaert (Le Sueur, Minn./Le Sueur-Henderson) sixth at 174 pounds, remain unchanged until a new set is scheduled to appear Jan. 5. He is 2-0 on the year but has not wrestled since Nov. 22 at the Augsburg Open. Henle moved up one spot to eighth at 141 pounds by D3wrestle.com (Dec. 23) and Michaelis stayed at No. 9.
THE OPPOSITION: Two of SJU’s opponents, No. 2 Wabash and Dubuque, have at least one nationally-ranked wrestler.
149: No. 8 Brian Travis
157: No. 4/5 Reece Lefever
174: No. 2 Conner Lefever
184: No. 1 Riley Lefever