MINNEAPOLIS — With all 10 Augsburg University wrestlers still alive, including eight in championship contention, the Auggies hold the lead after the first day of the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional at Si Melby Hall on Friday.
DAY 1 SCORES: 1. Augsburg (Minn.) 77.5; 2. Wisconsin-La Crosse 76.0; 3t. Wisconsin-Whitewater 44.5; 3t. Wisconsin-Platteville 44.5; 5. Wisconsin-Stevens Point 41.5; 6. Wheaton (Ill.) 40.5; 7. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 40.0; 8. University of Chicago (Ill.) 36.5; 9. Elmhurst (Ill.) 36.0; 10. Wisconsin-Oshkosh 34.5; 11. Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) 26.5; 12t. Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.) 19.5; 12t. Saint John’s (Minn.) 19.5; 14. Concordia-Wisconsin 9.5; 15. St. Olaf (Minn.) 7.5; 16. Pacific (Ore.) 6.5; 17. Lakeland (Wis.) 0.0.
Augsburg wrestlers went 19-2 on the first day of the two-day NCAA regional, including seven pins, five technical falls and three major decisions. Eight of the 10 Auggies advanced to Saturday’s (2/23) championship semifinals, with two in wrestlebacks. All 10 Auggies still have shots at qualifying for the NCAA Division III National Championships, as the top three placers in each weight class earn bids.
As a team, Augsburg, ranked No. 2 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national rankings, leads the 17-team regional with 77.5 points after the first day, with No. 10-ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse in second with 76.0 points. No. 8-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater is in a tie for third place with No. 23-ranked Wisconsin-Platteville, both with 44.5 points.
Auggie 125-pounder Victor Gliva (SO, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS) and 141-pounder David Flynn (SO, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)) each claimed two pins on Friday. Flynn, ranked No. 2 nationally at 141, claimed pins of 1:19 and 3:25 to improve to 16-3 on the season with seven pins, while Gliva had pins of 1:56 and 6:30 to move to 27-5 on the year with nine pins.
Sam Bennyhoff (JR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS), ranked No. 4 nationally at 133, improved to 30-5 on the season with two third-period technical falls, outscoring his two opponents by a 33-1 margin in 17-0 and 16-1 wins. Of his 30 wins, Bennyhoff now has 24 bonus-point triumphs (eight major decisions, seven technical falls, nine pins).
Lucas Jeske (SO, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) improved to 33-1 on the year with a 2:26 pin and 16-1, first-period technical fall on Friday. He now has 27 bonus-point wins (18 pins, two technical falls, seven major decisions) this season.
Top-ranked 157-pounder Ryan Epps (SO, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS) extended his winning streak to 20 straight matches with two victories on Friday, a 4-1 decision and 12-0 major decision. He is now 36-1 on the season with 14 bonus-point wins (seven pins, one technical fall, six major decisions).
Tanner Vassar (SO, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) scored a 9-1 major decision and 20-3 technical fall to advance to the 174-pound semifinals. Vassar is now 30-7 with 19 bonus-point wins (nine pins, five technical falls, five major decisions) on the season.
No. 9-ranked 197-pounder Lance Benick (FY, Fridley, Minn./Totino-Grace HS), a transfer from Division I Arizona State, improved to 10-3 on the year with a pair of wins, including a 12-4 major decision. Alex Wilson (JR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS), ranked No. 3 nationally at 149, claimed a 3-0 win in his only match on Friday to reach the semifinals.
Two Auggies had to rally back from second-round losses to remain alive in the wrestlebacks, with a shot at a third-place regional finish and national tournament berth — Sebastian Larson (SR, River Falls, Wis./River Falls HS) at 184 and Ethan Hofacker (SO, Spring Valley, Wis./Spring Valley HS) at heavyweight. Larson rallied back with an 18-0, first-period technical fall in the wrestlebacks, while Hofacker scored a 3:32 pin in his wrestleback match.
The regional resumes on Saturday (2/24) at 10 a.m. with championship semifinals, consolation quarterfinals and semifinals, and placing matches for first, third and fifth. The top three finishers in each class will advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships, to be held March 9-10 in Cleveland, Ohio.