MOORHEAD, Minn. — The No. 2-ranked Augsburg College wrestling team claimed an NCAA Division III regional title for the 15th straight year, qualifying individuals in eight weight classes to the national championships at the NCAA West Regional, held on Saturday at Concordia College.
Augsburg, ranked No. 2 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national poll, won the 11-team regional with 159.0 points. Augsburg has won the team title in its NCAA regional every year since starting regional competition in the 2002-03 season.
With its eight national tournament qualifiers — including five first-year competitors — Augsburg has had seven or more national tournament qualifiers in 14 of the last 15 seasons. Augsburg had seven regional champions and one third-place finisher. The top three finishers in each weight class qualify for the national tournament.
Augsburg Head Coach Jim Moulsoff was named West Region Coach of the Year, while Augsburg’s Tony Valek was named West Region Assistant Coach of the Year by his coaching peers.
Augsburg 184-pounder Owen Webster (FY, Shakopee, Minn.), ranked No. 1 nationally, earned the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler honors with three dominant wins on Saturday, claiming two second-period pins to advance to the finals, where he scored a 12-0, major-decision win over No. 9-ranked Grant Wedepohl of Wisconsin-Platteville. Now 29-1 on the season, Webster has scored 26 straight victories and has 22 bonus-point victories (10 major decisions, four technical falls, eight pins). Webster is now 20-0 against NCAA Division III opponents, with his lone loss coming to Division II Minnesota State-Mankato’s Matt Blome (3:50 pin) on Nov. 19 in the finals of the Auggie-Adidas Open.
No. 3-ranked heavyweight Donny Longendyke (SR, Vadnais Heights, Minn./White Bear Lake HS) qualified for his third national championship as an Auggie with his third regional title. He scored two first-period pins to reach the finals, then topped No. 8-ranked Justice Davis of Concordia-Moorhead 6-1 in the championship match. The 2015 Division III heavyweight national champion and 2016 national runner-up, Longendyke is now 24-3 on the season with 18 bonus-point wins (15 pins, three major decisions). He is now 148-29 in his collegiate career with 111 bonus-point wins (84 pins, four technical falls, 23 major decisions), including a 107-8 record with 81 bonus-point wins (61 pins, four technical falls, 16 major decisions) in three seasons at Augsburg.
Sam Bennyhoff (SO, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) will compete in his second national tournament, after winning the 133-pound regional title for the second straight year .He claimed two major decisions — a 14-2 win over Cody Vogel of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the semifinals and a 10-2 win over Scott Arneson of UW-Platteville in the finals. Now 28-7 on the season, Bennyhoff has 18 bonus-point wins (11 major decisions, five technical falls, two pins). He is now 56-14 in his two seasons at Augsburg, with 33 bonus-point wins (17 major decisions, eight technical falls, eight pins).
Augsburg dominated in the lower weights, with four titlists in the first four weight classes, including three first-year wrestlers — No. 3-ranked 125-pounder Victor Gliva (FY, Farmington, Minn.), No. 5-ranked 141-pounder Dave Flynn (FY, Jordan, Minn./Scott West) and No. 8-ranked 149-pounder Ryan Epps (FY, Cannon Falls, Minn.).
Gliva opened with a first-period pin, then scored a 9-3 win over Concordia’s Aaron Dick and a 3-2 win over Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Zackary Sirny to advance to the national tournament for the first tie. Gliva is now 30-4 on the season with 15 bonus-point wins (six major decisions, four technical falls, five pins). He extended his winning streak to 21 straight matches with his three wins on Saturday.
Flynn scored two decision wins to reach his first national tournament, scoring a 7-2 win over Joshua Curcuio of Concordia-Wisconsin and a 7-2 win over Kody Azarian of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Now 21-4 since transferring to Augsburg after competing in the first half of the season at Division I North Dakota State (now 30-7 overall), He has 17 bonus-point wins (12 pins, two technical falls, three major decisions) this season, including 11 (eight pins, three major decisions) as an Auggie.
Epps opened his tournament run with a 10-0 major-decision, then scored a 17-0, technical-fall win over Branden Schorr of Saint John’s in the semifinals. He secured his first trip to the national tournament with a 4-0 win over Ty Johnson of Concordia-Moorhead in the finals. Epps is now 31-5 on the season with 14 bonus-point wins (four pins, five technical falls, five major decisions).
Lucas Jeske (FY, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) continued the first-year bonanza for the Auggies with the title at 165 pounds, improving to 21-7 on the season. He scored a 14-3 major-decision in his opening match, then scored a 2:04 pin of Mitchell Fucile of Lakeland (Wis.) in the finals to claim the title. Jeske now has 12 bonus-point wins on the season (seven pins, one technical fall, four major decisions).
Grant Parker (SR, Onalaska, Wis.) rallied from a semifinal loss at 157 pounds to finish third for the second straight year at the regional, qualifying for his second national tournament. He rallied in the wrestlebacks with a 4:52 pin of Sam Rathburn of the Milwaukee (Wis.) School of Engineering and a 4-2 win over Jerod Novak of Saint John’s to earn the national tournament bid. Parker is now 22-10 on the season with 10 bonus-point victories (five major decisions, five pins) and 88-59 in his career with 30 bonus-point wins (15 pins, one technical fall, 14 major decisions).
Two Auggies saw their seasons end with fourth-place finishes in the regional. Austin Boniface (SR, Wyoming, Minn./Forest Lake HS) went 2-2 with a pin at 174 to finish 23-14 on the season and 68-42 on his career, and Sebastian Larson (JR, River Falls, Wis.) went 3-2 at 197 to finish his season at 19-18. He is now 59-45 in his career.
UP NEXT: Augsburg competes at the NCAA Division III National Championships, to be held March 10-11 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.
Visit The Guillotine College Tournament Time Page for brackets, results, and live video links.