MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Saint John’s earned three national entrants and finished fifth out of 12 teams at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday, Feb. 27, at Augsburg’s Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis.
The host Auggies won the tournament with 155.5 points, followed by Concordia-Moorhead (124), Wisconsin-Platteville (104), Wisconsin-Eau Claire (90) and SJU (78).
SJU has now qualified two or more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in 26 of the last 27 seasons.
The top three finishers in each weight class advanced to the 2016 NCAA Division III Championships, which are scheduled for March 11-12 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Johnnies placed six wrestlers and went 4-7 in matches decided by two points or less, including four one-point losses.
Senior Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer), who is ranked eighth nationally by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA), earned his third consecutive trip to nationals with a regional title at 141 pounds. He started the day with a 7-2 decision and earned a trip to the title bout with a 3-1 win over Concordia-Moorhead’s Blane Tschida in the semifinal. Henle won the title when his opponent, Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Nathaniel Behnke, did not wrestle due to a medical forfeit. Henle is 23-11 on the season.
Senior Mike Pleski (Stacy, Minn./Forest Lake) started his day with a pin before suffering a 4-3 overtime loss to the Cobbers’ Gabe Foltz, who is ranked as high as fifth nationally, at 133 pounds. Pleski battled back with a 3-1 win in the consolation semifinal and punched his ticket to nationals with a 16-5 major decision over Wisconsin-Platteville’s Scott Arneson in the third-place match. Pleski has a 20-18 record on the year.
Junior Teddy Erickson (Annandale, Minn.) cruised to the championship match at 165 pounds with a pair of wins, 5-0 and 5-3. He suffered a loss in the title bout, via pin, to Augsburg’s Eric Hensel, who is unranked though a returning All-American. Erickson is 15-18 on the year.
Junior Robert Tait (Faribault, Minn./Bethlehem Academy) just missed a trip to nationals with a fourth-place finish at 174 pounds. He lost his first match of the day, 10-8, but clawed back with a major decision and a wild 17-14 win over Augsburg’s Austin Boniface. The Cobbers’ Jake Johnson ended Tait’s run, and season, with a 7-4 decision in the third-place match.
Junior Glenn Castro (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Westlake) advanced to the quarterfinal at 184 pounds thanks to a first-round forfeit and suffered a close 3-1 loss to Augsburg’s Sebastian Larson. The consolation bracket was full of drama for Castro, who won his first bout in overtime (7-6) and lost his second, and an appearance in the third-place match, in overtime (3-2). He earned fifth place with a 20-8 major decision.
Like Castro, junior Branden Schorr (Mantorville, Minn./Kasson-Mantorville) just missed an appearance in the third-place match with a one-point loss in the consolation semifinal. He went 1-3 on the day and claimed sixth at 149 pounds.
2016 NCAA DIII West Regional results
125 -John Wells (0-2)
133 -Mike Pleski (Third, 3-1)
141 -No. 8 Ben Henle (Champion, 2-0)
149 -Branden Schorr (Sixth, 1-3)
157 -Jack Barsody (1-2)
165 -Teddy Erickson (Second, 2-1)
174 -Robert Tait (Fourth, 2-2)
184 -Glenn Castro (Fifth, 2-2)
197 -Nick Pegelow (0-2)
285 -Colin Fisher (1-2)