Johnnie Duo Set for NCAA Wrestling Championships

Two Saint John’s wrestlers, junior Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) and senior Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.), travel to Hershey, Pa., for the 2015 NCAA Division III Championships Friday-Saturday, March 13-14.

Saint John's JohnniesA LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s wrestling earned two national entrants and tied for third out of 12 teams at the NCAA West Regional on Feb. 28 in Minneapolis. The top three at each weight class qualified for the national tournament. Augsburg won the team title with 179 points, followed by Concordia-Moorhead (143.5) and a tie between SJU and Wisconsin-Platteville at 74.5 points. Michaelis earned his third consecutive trip to nationals with a second-place finish at 197 pounds. He started his day with a pair of pins before falling to No. 7 Matt Hechsel of Augsburg, 7-3, in the championship match. He is ranked as high as sixth nationally and touts a 12-2 record on the season. Henle tallied a major decision (15-3) and a 10-8 overtime victory over Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Nathaniel Behnke to earn his second straight trip to nationals, but fell to Concordia-Moorhead’s Jacoby Bergeron by a 6-5 score in the title bout. He is ranked as high as seventh nationally and is 26-8 on the season. Both of his Division III losses have been to Bergeron (2-0 decision on Feb. 13).

The Johnnies had three wrestlers on the cusp of earning a national bid, but all three lost in the third-place match. Senior Evan Guffey (Wyandotte, Mich./Roosevelt) battled back from a loss in his first match of the tournament with a pair of wins, including a 6-4 decision over Sean Ambrocio of Concordia (Wis.), who earned All-America honors (eighth) at 125 pounds last season. Guffey (14-14 record) ended his season with a 6-0 decision in the third-place match. Freshman Chase Monger(Eden Prairie, Minn.) totaled a 3-2 record on the day, but suffered a pair of losses to Augsburg’s Gable Frandsen. Frandsen tallied a 4-2 win over Monger in the quarterfinal and a close 4-3 decision in the third-place match. Monger ended the season with an 8-11 record. Sophomore Colin Fisher (Eagan, Minn.) bounced back from a 9-0 loss in his first match of the day with three straight wins, but missed a chance at nationals with a 6-2 loss in the third-place bout. He ended the season with a 13-9 record.

TRADITION CONTINUES: SJU has now qualified two or more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in 25 of the last 26 seasons.

AT 141: Henle (26-8 record) travels to nationals ranked as high seventh (NWCA) at 141 pounds, but did not receive either of the eight seeds in the tournament. In the first round, Henle will face the fourth seed, New York University’s Brandon Jones (21-3), who is ranked third in both national polls. The 141-pound bracket consists of four returning All-Americans, including last year’s national champion (Messiah’s Kaleb Loht) and the second- and third-place finishers. Loht (38-0) has not lost to a Division III opponent since the 2013 regional tournament, boasting a record of 86-1 the last two seasons.

AT 197: Michaelis (12-2 record) held his ninth-place ranking by the NWCA but dropped from sixth to 10th according to d3wrestle.com at 197 pounds. He will face the winner of the pigtail match between The College of New Jersey’s Nathaniel Leer (19-9) and fourth-seeded Joe Giaramita (27-1) of Cortland State (N.Y.). Giaramita is the ranked as high as second nationally and is one of seven returning All-Americans in the bracket bracket, including last year’s runner-up, Shane Siefert (17-2) of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

LAST YEAR’S NATIONALS: Henle and Michaelis both exited the tournament with a pair of losses in the first day of competition. Henle dropped his first match of the day at 141 pounds to Loras’ (Iowa) Matt Holmes, ranked seventh nationally, 9-2. He then drew Dominick Giacolone of Ithaca (N.Y.), ranked as high as fifth in the country, in the consolation round and lost 5-3 in overtime. During a scramble with 23 seconds left in the sudden-victory overtime, Giacolone caught Henle in a “potentially-dangerous” move, buckling the Johnnie’s right knee and in turn causing him to hit the mat for the deciding takedown. The referee, however, ruled that the takedown took place before the hazardous move was initiated. Henle ended the season with a 19-11 record. Michaelis lost his first bout at 197 pounds to sixth-ranked Paul Glover of Brockport State (N.Y.), 6-3, and left the tournament with a 10-2 loss to Heidelberg’s (Ohio) Jason Russell. He finished the season with a 16-12 record.

Visit The Guillotine College Tournament Time Page for brackets, results, and live video links.

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