SJU set for Saturday’s St. Cloud State Open

Saint John’s wrestling participates a little closer to home this Saturday, Dec. 9, at the St. Cloud State Husky Open. The tournament is scheduled for a 9 a.m. start in Halenbeck Hall.

Six Saint John’s wrestlers, all underclassmen, placed at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Open last Saturday (Dec. 2) at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Open. SJU was the only NCAA Division III program with competitors in the tournament.

Sophomore Noah Becker (Browerville, Minn.) won the 125-pound title with a 4-0 record. He won the championship with a 9-8 win over Division I South Dakota State’s Kahlen Morris. Ahead 8-6, Becker surrendered a match-tying takedown late, but was able to earn an escape for the title. Becker is ranked ninth nationally at 133 pounds by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) and is now 6-2 on the year.

sjulogoSophomore Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) placed second at 133 pounds and is now 6-2 on the young season. He started the day with a pair of decisions, 11-4 and 9-7, before falling to Division II St. Cloud State’s Garrett Vos via fall in the championship bout.

Four Johnnies placed in the white brackets. Freshman Brandon Ortman (Pierz, Minn.) won the 149-pound title with three second-period pins, while sophomore Jake Fernholz (Sartell, Minn./Sartell-St. Stephen) and freshman Noah Lefebvre (Foley, Minn.) finished fourth at 141 and 165 pounds, respectively. Sophomore Dan Gainer (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) claimed fifth at 174.

RANKINGS: Becker and junior Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) are still ranked ninth (133 pounds) and eighth (184 pounds), respectively, in the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings. A new batch is set to be released Dec. 12. Both wrestlers are still listed as “Contenders,” just outside the top 10, in the latest rankings posted Dec. 6. Becker shifted from the 133-pound list to 125.

LAST YEAR’S TOURNEY: SJU wrapped up the 2016 portion of its wrestling schedule at last year’s St. Cloud State Husky Open on Dec. 10 (2016). SJU went 2-9 against Division I and Division II competition on the day.

Becker led the Johnnies with a second-place finish at 133 pounds. He won his first two matches of the day with narrow decisions, 3-1 and 3-2, before falling to Jarred Oftedahl of Division II SCSU via fall in the championship bout.

Sophomore Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) was the other Johnnie with two wins on the day. He dropped his first match of the day, 3-1 to Adam Knutson of Division II Southwest Minnesota State, but bounced back with a major decision and technical fall. Novak ended the tournament with a 6-3 loss to Nick Mergen of Division I North Dakota State.

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