SJU visits St. Cloud State Thursday, hosts North Country Open Sunday

The Johnnie wrestling team travels to face No. 1 (Division II) St. Cloud State for a 7 p.m. dual on Thursday, Jan. 26, at Halenbeck Hall. SJU then hosts the annual North Country Open at 9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, in Sexton Arena.

Saint John’s (6-2 dual record) split a pair of duals last week, beginning with a 34-12 win Jan. 19 at Ridgewater. The Johnnies jumped out to an 18-0 lead thanks to two forfeits and a pin from freshman Graham Evavold (Minneapolis, Minn./Southwest) at 141 pounds. The Vikings cut it to 18-8 with two straight wins at 149 and 157 pounds, and made it 24-12 with a major decision at 174. Freshman Quincy Spiering (Mounds View, Minn./St. Thomas Academy) ended the dual with a 17-4 major decision, his first collegiate win.

No. 2 Augsburg recorded six bonus-point wins in a 37-14 dual victory over SJU this past Sunday (Jan. 22) in Minneapolis. Augsburg jumped out to a 22-0 lead before freshman Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) earned six team points due to an injury default for SJU at 157 pounds. Novak led ninth-ranked Grant Parker 2-0 before the Auggie’s knee buckled with 47 seconds left in the first period. Novak is now 12-10 on the year.

sjulogoSenior Teddy Erickson (Annandale, Minn.) matched a technical fall at 165 pounds with one of his own, 17-1, at 174 to improve to 11-5 this season. He registered two four-point near falls and chose down to start the third period, where he scored a reversal and a two-point near fall for the victory. The win enabled Erickson to avenge a 5-2 loss to the Auggies’ Jackson Graham, who transferred from SJU following his freshman year and entered Sunday’s match with a 23-9 record, from earlier this season on Nov. 19 at the Augsburg Open.

Senior Robert Tait (Faribault, Minn./Bethlehem Academy) recorded the Johnnies’ final win of the dual, a 4-1 decision at 197 pounds, to move his record to 7-1 on the year. Following a scoreless first period, Augsburg’s Sebastian Larson chose down to start the second, but Tait accrued 1:42 of riding time before Larson was able to escape. Tait chose down to start the third period, escaped with 1:49 left and scored a takedown with six seconds left to secure the win.

THURSDAY’S PROBABLE LINEUP: The Johnnies are expected to field the following lineup Thursday night at St. Cloud State:
125 – Anthony Hennen (9-16)
133 – Noah Becker (18-7)
141 – Andrew Smith (5-14)
149 – Branden Schorr (8-9)
157 – Jerod Novak (12-10)
165 – Jack Barsody (7-10)
174 – Mike Wagner (0-1)
184 – Glenn Castro (4-8)
197 – Robert Tait (7-1)
285 – Colin Fisher (4-2)

THURSDAY’S LIVE COVERAGE (at SCSU): Live Audio | Live Results | Live Video

A LOOK AT THE HUSKIES: St. Cloud State improved to 11-1 (3-0 NSIC) with a pair of dual wins at home over MSU-Moorhead (38-3) and Northern State (41-3) Jan. 19 and Jan. 21, respectively. SCSU has now won 47 consecutive NSIC dual matches dating back to a loss against Augustana (S.D.) on Jan. 27, 2011. Nine Huskies are currently ranked nationally: No. 6 Brett Velasquez at 125 pounds (12-2 record), No. 12 Mike Rhone at 133 (7-3), No. 5 Matt Nelson at 141 (8-1), No. 8 Larry Bomstad at 157 (12-2), No. 9 Gabe Fogarty at 165 (12-6), No. 4 Clayton Jennissen at 174 (20-5), No. 5 Uthman Rabiu at 184 (11-2), No. 3 Vince Dietz at 197 (20-2) and No. 1 Austin Goergen at heavyweight (17-0).

LAST YEAR’S DUAL: SCSU recorded seven bonus-point wins in a 45-3 victory over SJU last Nov. 24 (2015) in Collegeville. The Huskies started the dual with two pins before Ben Henle ’16 put SJU on the scoreboard with an 8-6 overtime win at 141 pounds. Henle, who was ranked fifth nationally at the time by D3wrestle.com, scored a takedown with 33 seconds left in the first overtime (sudden victory) to improve to 8-3 on the young season. Henle’s opponent, Travis Swanson, tied the match at 5-5 with a reversal to start the third period. Henle escaped with a minute remaining, but Swanson held a 1:19 advantage in riding time to send the match to overtime.

Mike Pleski ’16 suffered a tough 8-7 loss at 149 pounds. He entered the second period with a 7-3 lead, but allowed four points in the frame, including a technical violation for grabbing the edge of the mat. The deciding point was riding time in favor of the Huskies’ Jay Hildreth.

Sophomore Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) just missed earning his eighth win of the season at 184 pounds. He led 2-0 in the third period, but allowed a reversal with 50 seconds remaining and then the deciding takedown 26 seconds later.

The two St. Cloud State wrestlers ranked No. 1 nationally, Clint Poster (165 pounds) and Austin Goergen (285 pounds), combined for 11 team points on the night. Poster earned a 22-6 technical fall and Goergen tallied a pin in 40 seconds to end the dual.

THE 2016 NORTH COUNTRY OPEN: The Johnnies recorded five, top-five finishes in a strong field at last year’s North Country Open on Jan. 30 (2016). SJU and then-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.

Pleski and Henle each went 4-1 to finish third at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively. Henle 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.

Erickson 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. John Wells ’16 followed a similar path as Erickson by avenging Jan. 24’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.

Senior 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.

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