Johnnies Visit No. 8 Concordia Wednesday

The Johnnies travel to face No. 8 Concordia for a 7 p.m. dual on Wednesday, Feb. 3, in Moorhead.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s (3-13 dual record) recorded five, top-five finishes in a strong field at the annual North Country Open last Saturday (Jan. 30) in Collegeville. SJU and No. 7 Augsburg supplied the lone NCAA Division III wrestlers in the tournament. The rest of the field featured Division I Minnesota and North Dakota State, as well as Division II Augustana (S.D.), MSU-Mankato, MSU-Moorhead, St. Cloud State and Southwest Minnesota State.

Saint John's JohnniesSeniors Mike Pleski (Stacy, Minn./Forest Lake) and Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) each went 4-1 to finish third at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively. Henle, who is ranked seventh nationally by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA), won his first two matches via fall before he suffered a 7-5 loss to Minnesota’s Ben Brancale, the eventual champion, in the semifinals. He bounced back with a 6-3, double-overtime decision and claimed third place with a 10-7 victory over North Dakota State’s David Flynn. Pleski, like Henle, won his first two matches (both by major decision) before he lost his semifinal match by a two-point margin (4-2) to Augsburg’s Sam Bennyhoff, the eventual champion. He responded with a pair of one-point wins, including a 5-4 decision over the Gophers’ Gresh Jones to place third.

Junior Teddy Erickson (Annandale, Minn.) went 3-1 to place third at 165 pounds. He avenged Jan. 24’s 9-6 loss to Augsburg’s Brady McFarland with a 6-2 decision in the rematch to start the day. Erickson lost his semifinal bout but took third with a 7-2 win over NDSU’s Alex Blaney.

Senior John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton) followed a similar path as Erickson by avenging Sunday’s loss to Augsburg’s James Goman with a 5-4 win Saturday morning at 125 pounds. He lost to St. Cloud State’s Joel Salomon in the third-place match via fall. Junior Colin Fisher (Eagan, Minn.) bounced back from a loss in his first match with wins in his next three bouts at heavyweight. A 4-1 loss to Minnesota’s Luke Destiche in the consolation semifinal sent him to the fifth-place match, where he pinned Southwest State’s Jack Ryan in 4:39.

THE LINEUP: The Johnnies are expected to take the following lineup to Moorhead Wednesday:
125: John Wells (11-10)/Ben Kollaja (2-21)
133: Mike Pleski (15-16)
141: No. 7 Ben Henle (19-10)
149: Adam Sutlief (0-3)
157: T.J. Fulton (1-3)
165: Teddy Erickson (12-15)
174: Robert Tait (6-4)
184: Glenn Castro (5-15)
197: Nick Pegelow (7-22)
285: Colin Fisher (10-11)

A LOOK AT THE COBBERS: Concordia (11-4 dual record) enters Wednesday’s dual with losses in three of its last four bouts, though the competition has not been soft. All three losses were to top-10 teams: No. 8 Wabash (25-12) and No 4. Roger Williams (26-18) at the NWCA National Duals, and No. 7 Augsburg (16-15). The Cobbers’ lineup features three nationally ranked wrestlers: No. 5 Jakob Stageberg at 125 pounds, No. 4/6 Gabe Foltz at 133 and No. 8/9 Cole Sladek at 165 pounds.

LAST YEAR’S DUAL: Then-No. 6 Concordia built an 18-0 lead en route to a 39-3 wrestling win over SJU last Feb. 13 (2015) in Collegeville. The Cobbers won five of the six matches decided by three points or less. Jake Krogstad, who was ranked as high as fourth in the country, started the dual at 165 pounds with a pin of Erickson with one second left in the second period (ahead 6-3). Concordia added a pin and two more decisions before Fisher put SJU on the scoreboard with a 3-2 win, thanks to 1:40 of riding time, at heavyweight.

Henle suffered his first loss to a Division III wrestler this season, 2-0 to the Cobbers’ Jacoby Bergeron at 141 pounds. Bergeron, who was ranked as high as fourth nationally, chose down to start the second and earned an escape. Henle, ranked seventh, chose down to start the third, but could not escape during the entire two-minute third period to give Bergeron the extra point for riding time (1:40 total).

Junior Branden Schorr (Mantorville, Minn./Kasson-Mantorville) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead at 149 pounds but gave up seven straight points before falling by pin in 3:47. Sophomore Chase Monger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) ended the dual with a 3-1 loss at 157 pounds on a takedown at the final horn. Ryan Michaelis ’15, who was 10-1 and ranked as high as sixth nationally at 197 pounds, did not wrestle.

SERIES HISTORY: The Johnnies are 15-8 against the Cobbers in dual meets since the 1994-95 season, though Concordia has won eight of the last 10 meetings. SJU won 13 straight from 1995-2007 before the Cobbers started a streak of four straight (2008-10).

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