HERSHEY, Pa. — The Augsburg College wrestling team claimed its record 12th NCAA Division III national championship, winning two individual national crowns and earning six All-Americans in the finals of the national tournament, completed on Saturday at the Giant Center.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Augsburg claimed its NCAA Division III-record 12th national title and first since 2010, snapping a streak of four straight national titles by Wartburg (Iowa). Augsburg and Wartburg have combined to win every NCAA Division III national title since 1995.
Augsburg claimed the championship with 100.0 points, its eighth national title scoring 100 or more points. Wartburg finished second with 89.5 points, while Wabash (Ind.) was third with 66.5 points, Wisconsin-Whitewater was fourth with 60.5 points and Delaware Valley (Pa.) was fifth with 58.5 points.
Augsburg swept the awards presented by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Head coach Jim Moulsoff was named Division III National Coach of the Year and Division III Rookie Coach of the Year, while Tony Valek was named Assistant Coach of the Year. Augsburg 125-pound back-to-back national champion Mike Fuenffinger (SR, Hibbing, Minn.) was named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler, and 165-pounder Eric Hensel (JR, Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville South HS) earned the tournament’s Most Falls in Least Time award.
“As the season went on, we took our lumps, I know that, but it didn’t make a difference,” Moulsoff said. “We learned along the way and we grew, because (the wrestlers knew) they’re going to crown a national champ come March, and that was their goal, and that’s what they did. That’s what we did.”
Augsburg’s lead in the tournament came down to bonus points, which teams receive for recording major decisions, technical falls and pins. Augsburg received 24 bonus points in the team standings (seven pins, two technical falls, seven major decisions), while Wartburg recorded seven bonus points (two pins, four major decisions).
In a rematch of last year’s 125-pound national championship match, Augsburg’s Fuenffinger dominated in a 15-2, major-decision victory over Lucas Malmberg of Messiah (Pa.), becoming the 11th Augsburg wrestler in school history to earn multiple national titles. Last year, Fuenffinger also claimed a major-decision win over Malmberg in the finals with a 12-4 triumph.
Using five takedowns, two near-falls and a 4:02 riding-time advantage, Fuenffinger controlled the championship bout from start to finish, only allowing two escapes by Malmberg.
“It was the same approach (as last year), just dominating every position,” Fuenffinger said. “Just go out there, attacking and attacking, pressing forward the whole time. Just being dominant on top, trying to keep him down. It worked out.”
Fuenffinger finished his senior season with a 34-1 record, including a 31-match winning streak to end his collegiate career. Of Fuenffinger’s 34 victories, 25 were bonus-point wins (nine pins, four technical falls, 12 major decisions).
“A big part of any team is a good starter. Mike has done that for us for the last four years,” Moulsoff said. “A great way to go out with his second national title, leading by example, out there on the mat for everyone else. He sets the tone right away, he goes out there and dominates, and what more can you ask for as a coach.”
The 41st Augsburg wrestler to earn three or more All-American honors, Fuenffinger finished his career with a 110-21 record, including 25 pins, 11 technical falls and 26 major decisions.
Fuenffinger advanced to the national title match in come-from-behind fashion, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit with a pin in 6:27 over Guesseppe Rea of Wilkes (Pa.).
“Faith is the biggest thing. I just went out there and stayed focused. I just wanted to go out there and fight for the glory of God. Jesus is what got me here. I owe it all to Him. Being able to represent Him in the best way I can, that’s what I was striving for,” Fuenffinger said.
Heavyweight Donny Longendyke (SR, Vadnais Heights, Minn./White Bear Lake HS) claimed his first national title, claiming a 1-0 win over Terrance Jean-Jacques of Rhode Island College. After a scoreless first period, Longendyke claimed an escape two seconds into the second period, the lone points of the bout. Neither wrestler scored in the third period, with the two trading shots.
“You had two evenly-matched athletes right there. They’re not your typical heavyweights,” Moulsoff said. “Donny did a heckuva job for us this year, coming in and doing what he did. It’s always nice to have a guy like that at the end of your lineup.”
Longendyke advanced to his first national championship match with an 8-4 victory over James Bethel of Oneonta State (N.Y.) in the semifinals earlier on Saturday.
A transfer from Division I Nebraska, Longendyke finished 44-2 on the season, including a 32-0 NCAA record. He finished the season with a 36-match winning streak. Of his 44 wins, 33 were bonus-point wins (22 pins, three technical falls, eight major decisions).
Chad Bartschenfeld (SR, Amery, Wis.) saw his unseeded streak through the tournament come to an end in the national title match at 133 pounds, as he was edged 4-3 by No. 5-seed Matthew Grossman of Wilkes (Pa.). Bartschenfeld claimed the first takedown of the match, but gave up two escapes and a takedown with 25 seconds left in the second period.
Earlier in the day, Bartschenfeld reached the finals with a 6-4 win in the second overtime tiebreaker session over No. 6-seed Evan Obert of Luther (Iowa), claiming an escape with 22 seconds left in regulation and a takedown with three seconds left to force overtime. After two sudden-victory sessions and a tiebreaker session, Bartschenfeld scored a reversal with 16 seconds left in his second tiebreaker, then rode out Obert for the final 30 seconds to collect the win.
Competing in his second national tournament, Bartschenfeld finished his senior season with a 30-12 record, and capped his career at 75-46, including eight pins, three technical falls and 16 major decisions.
Earlier in the day, three Auggies earned victories in their placing matches. Augsburg’s six All-Americans are its most since claiming eight in the 2010 national title season.
Augsburg has now earned 228 All-Americans in school history — 192 in NCAA Division III competition (1983-present) and 36 in NAIA competition (1968-1983). Augsburg has had at least one All-American in national wrestling competition every season since 1977, and has had three or more All-Americans at 36 different national tournaments.
At 165, Eric Hensel (JR, Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville South HS) finished fifth for his first career All-American honor, claiming two pins on Saturday, including a 1:43 pin over top-seed Andrew Steiert of Wartburg in the fifth-place match. A transfer from Clackamas Community College (Oregon), Hensel finished his first Auggie season at 22-14, and is 38-26 in his collegiate career.
Hensel finished the national tournament with four pins, leading the tournament field entering tonight’s finals.
Will Keeter (SR, Twin Falls, Idaho) finished his collegiate career with a seventh-place finish at 149 pounds for his second All-American honor in his third national tournament. He finished in third place at 141 pounds in 2012.
On Saturday, Keeter suffered a pin in 4:53 by Brad Mayville of the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.), but rallied back in the seventh-place match with a dramatic 11-9 win over Luke Lohr of Waynesburg, who had beaten Keeter 6-3 in their opening match on Friday. Keeter finished his senior season at 33-13, and finished his Augsburg career with a 129-59 record, with three trips to the national tournament to his credit.
Matt Hechsel (SR, Apple Valley, Minn.) finished his collegiate career with a seventh-place finish at 197 pounds, claiming a 13-3, major-decision win over Matt Seabold of Central (Iowa) in the seventh-place match. Earlier in the day, he dropped a 6-1 decision to Aaron Karns of Delaware Valley (Pa.) to fall to the seventh-place match.
Hechsel finished his Augsburg career as a two-time All-American, finishing seventh both this year and in 2013 at 197. A three-time national tournament qualifier, Hechsel finished this season at 30-11, and capped his career with a 116-48 collegiate record.
Top 10 Team Scores:
1. Augsburg (Minn.) 100.0
2. Wartburg (Iowa) 89.5
3. Wabash (Ind.) 66.5
4. Wisconsin-Whitewater 60.5
5. Delaware Valley (Pa.) 58.5
6. Messiah (Pa.) 48.0
7. Coe (Iowa) 40.5
8. Wisconsin-La Crosse 40.0
9. Luther (Iowa) 39.5
10. Williams (Mass.) 33.0.
Other Minnesota schools:
27. Concordia-Moorhead 14.0
48t. St. Olaf 1.0
55t. Saint John’s 0.0.
Saturday’s results from Minnesota college wrestlers:
125 — Mike Fuenffinger (Augsburg) pinned Guesseppe Rea (Wilkes) 6:27. National Championship match: Fuenffinger maj. dec. Lucas Malmberg (Messiah) 15-2.
133 — Chad Bartschenfeld (Augsburg) dec. Evan Obert (Luther) 6-4 (OT-TB2). National Championship match: Matthew Grossmann (Wilkes) dec. Bartschenfeld 4-3.
149 — Brad Mayville (Rochester IT) pinned Will Keeter (Augsburg) 4:53. Seventh-place match: Keeter dec. Luke Lohr (Waynesburg) 11-9.
165 — Eric Hensel (Augsburg) pinned Ethan Farmer (Wabash) 7:42 (OT-SV1); Sam Guidi (Waynesburg) dec. Hensel 8-7. Fifth-place match: Hensel pinned Andrew Steiert (Wartburg) 1:43.
174 — Conor Lefever (Wabash) dec. Sebastian Gardner (Concordia-Moorhead) 10-5; Josh Thomson (Messiah) dec. Gardner 8-7. Fifth-place match: Troy Cain (Rochester IT) dec. Gardner 5-2.
197 — Aaron Karns (Delaware Valley) dec. Matt Hechsel (Augsburg) 6-1. Seventh-place match: Hechsel maj. dec. Matt Seabold (Central) 13-3.
HWT — Donny Longendyke (Augsburg) dec. James Bethel (Oneonta State) 8-4. National Championship match: Longendyke dec. Terrance Jean-Jacques (Rhode Island College) 1-0.