SJU Wrestling Set for Saturday’s NCAA Regional

The Johnnie wrestling team returns to action at the NCAA West Regional, hosted by Augsburg, this Saturday, Feb. 27. The meet is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis.

Saint John's JohnniesWHAT IT MEANS: The top three wrestlers in each weight class advance to the NCAA Division III Championships March 11-12 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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REGIONAL HISTORY: The Johnnies have finished third or better at the NCAA regional each of the past five seasons and have qualified two or more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in 25 of the last 26 seasons.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s returns to the mat this weekend after ending its dual season with a 22-15 loss at Division II Mary (N.D.) on Feb. 14 in Bismarck. The Johnnies jumped out to a 9-0 lead but lost five straight matches. Senior John Wells (Janesville, Wis./Milton) started the dual with a pin with one second remaining in the match at 125 pounds and classmate Mike Pleski (Stacy, Minn./Forest Lake) followed with a close 3-2 decision at 133. Junior Glenn Castro(Thousand Oaks, Calif./Westlake) stopped the bleeding for SJU with a 4-2 win at 184 pounds and sophomore Nick Pegelow (Eagan, Minn./Eastview) tallied his second win of the weekend with a 9-3 decision at 197 pounds.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Senior Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) stayed at No. 8 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings released Feb. 23. He was listed as a “contender,” just outside the top 10 at 141 pounds by D3wrestle.com. Three other Johnnies were listed as honorable mention: Wells (125), Pleski (133) and junior Colin Fisher (Eagan, Minn.) at 285.

WHO IS GOING: The Johnnies are expected to send the following 10 wrestlers, one in each weight class, to Augsburg Saturday:

125: John Wells (12-10)
133: Mike Pleski (17-17)
141: Ben Henle (21-11)
149: Branden Schorr (6-19)
157: Jack Barsody (8-20)
165: Teddy Erickson (13-17)
174: Robert Tait (8-5)
184: Glenn Castro (6-16)
197: Nick Pegelow (9-23)
285: Colin Fisher (11-15)

WHO IS THERE: In addition to SJU and the host Auggies, the NCAA West Region consists of Concordia (Wis.), Concordia-Moorhead, Lakeland (Wis.), Maranatha Baptist (Wis.), the Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.), Pacific (Ore.), St. Olaf, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Wisconsin-Platteville.

THE FIELD: The NCAA West Regional is expected to feature 11 nationally-ranked wrestlers, though there are no ranked wrestlers at 157, 174, 184 or 197 pounds. Two participants are returning All-Americans and hail from Augsburg, top-ranked and defending national champion Donny Longendyke at heavyweight and Eric Hensel. Hensel is unranked at 165 pounds but earned All-America honors with a fifth-place finish last spring.

125: No. 3/5 Jakob Stageberg (Concordia-Moorhead)
133: No. 5/7 Gabe Foltz (Concordia-Moorhead), No. 8 Sam Bennyhoff (Augsburg)
141: No. 2 Nathaniel Behnke (Wisconsin-Eau Claire), No. 8 Ben Henle (Saint John’s)
149: No. 7/10 Rashad Kennedy (Augsburg)
165: No. 9 Cole Sladek (Concordia-Moorhead), No. 10 Mitchell Fucile (Lakeland)
285: No. 1 Donny Longendyke (Augsburg), No. 7/8 Austin Bellile (MSOE), No. 10 Zack Gibson (St. Olaf)

LAST YEAR’S REGIONAL: SJU earned two national entrants and tied for third out of 12 teams at last year’s NCAA West Regional at Augsburg. The Auggies 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. Ryan Michaelis ’15 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 then-No. 7 Matt Hechsel of Augsburg, 7-3, in the championship match. 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.

The Johnnies had three wrestlers on the cusp of earning a national bid, but all three lost in the third-place match. Evan Guffey ’15 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.

Sophomore 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.

Junior 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.

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