Revamped NCAA Regional Awaits SJU Wrestling This Weekend at Augsburg

The Johnnie wrestling team competes at the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24, at Augsburg’s Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis.

sjulogoADMISSION: Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students (children age 5 and under are free). All tickets will be sold at the door.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s fell to No. 2 Augsburg by a score of 54-0 in its last competition Feb. 9 in Collegeville. The Johnnies (1-4 dual record) forfeited four weights to the Auggies (12-2 dual record), who tallied five bonus-point wins in the other six matches. The dual was delayed an hour and a half due to a scheduling error with the official.

Sophomore Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) fell to Augsburg’s Ryan Epps, who entered the match 32-1 and ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III, by a 6-1 score at 157 pounds. Sophomore Noah Becker (19-8; Browerville, Minn.) and junior Luke Dodd (13-8; Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview), who was ranked as high as seventh nationally, did not wrestle for SJU at 125 and 184 pounds, respectively, due to injury.

NEW FORMAT: The first day of competition is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Friday, with matches to be completed through championship quarterfinals and consolation quarterfinals, followed by a 10 a.m. start Saturday.

NEW REGION: The former NCAA Great Lakes Regional (2003-12) and NCAA West Regional (2013-17) is now the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional. The region added six teams for a total of 17 and contains the entire Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC): No. 2 Augsburg, No. 22 Chicago, Concordia-Moorhead, Concordia (Wis.), Elmhurst (Ill.), Lakeland (Wis.), Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.), Pacific (Ore.), SJU, St. Olaf, Wheaton (Ill.), UW-Eau Claire, No. 10 UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, No. 23 UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point and No. 8 UW-Whitewater.

NEW RANKINGS: Dodd stayed at No. 7 at 184 pounds in the latest rankings released Feb. 20, but dropped from No. 9 to unranked by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA).

WHAT’S NEXT: The regional’s top three placewinners at each weight advance to the NCAA Division III Championships March 9-10 in Cleveland, Ohio.

WHO’S WRESTLING: The Johnnies are scheduled to send these nine wrestlers to this weekend’s regional.

125: Noah Becker (19-8)
133: Andrew Smith (14-12)
141: Anthony Hennen (11-16)
149: Open
157: Jerod Novak (15-11)
165: Brady Mehr (3-6)
174: Dan Gainer (5-18)
184: No. 7 Luke Dodd (13-8)
197: Dominic Skawiniak (5-20)
285: Quincy Spiering (8-6)

THE WEIGHT CLASSES: This weekend’s NCAA Upper Midwest Regional could potentially include 27 nationally ranked wrestlers, as of the most recent lists published earlier this week.

  • 125 (4): No. 4 Carlos Fuentez (Wheaton), No. 8 Mike Tortorice (UW-Whitewater), No. 9 Zach Villarreal (UW-La Crosse) and No. 10 Victor Gliva (Augsburg).
  • 133 (4): No. 4 Sam Bennyhoff (Augsburg), No. 5 Anthony Munoz (Elmhurst), No. 8 Hazen Rice (UW-Whitewater) and No. 9/10 Scott Arneson (UW-Platteville).
  • 141 (3): No. 2 David Flynn (Augsburg), No. 4 Devin Tortorice (UW-Whitewater) and No. 7 Jimmy McAuliffe (Elmhurst).
  • 149 (1): No. 3/5 Alex Wilson (Augsburg).
  • 157 (2): No. 1 Ryan Epps (Augsburg) and No. 3 Mark Choinski (UW-Oshkosh).
  • 165 (4): No. 1/2 Lucas Jeske (Augsburg), No. 6 Keone Derain (Elmhurst), No. 7 Frank Aiello (Wheaton) and Mitch Hertel (UW-La Crosse).
  • 174 (1): No. 7/8 Jon Goetz (UW-Platteville).
  • 184 (5): No. 3/4 Grant Wedepohl (UW-Platteville), No. 4/5 Sean O’Neil (UW-La Crosse), No. 7 Luke Dodd (Saint John’s), No. 9/10 Dan Squires (UW-Stevens Point) and No. 10 Nick Stencel (UW-Whitewater).
  • 197 (3): No. 1 Jordan Newman (UW-Whitewater), No. 3/4 Wesley Schultz (UW-La Crosse) and No. 9 Lance Benick (Augsburg).
  • 285 (1): No. 7/10 Austin Bellile (Milwaukee School of Engineering).

LAST YEAR’S REGIONAL: SJU finished third out of 11 teams and earned four national qualifiers at last year’s NCAA West Regional held at Concordia-Moorhead. Becker (133), Dodd (184), Teddy Erickson ’17 (165) and Robert Tait ’17 (197) all qualified for the 2017 NCAA Division III Championships, which are scheduled for March 10-11 in La Crosse, Wis. Augsburg won the meet with a total of 159 points, followed by Concordia-Moorhead (123.5), SJU (90) and Wisconsin-Platteville (86).

Tait won his first match of the day at 197 pounds, 8-2, but lost the semifinal to the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Devin Mahnke, 4-2. The deciding points were a penalty for allegedly pulling Mahnke’s singlet and riding time. Tait battled back with a pin in 1:16 to reach the third-place bout, where he punched his ticket with a wild 10-8, overtime win over Augsburg’s Sebastian Larson. Down 7-4 late in the match, Tait posted a takedown, let Larson escape, and tied the match at 8-8 with a takedown as time expired. He won the sudden-victory overtime with a takedown 20 seconds in to improve his record to 13-4 on the season.

Like Tait, Erickson won his first match of the day at 165 pounds but suffered a defeat in the semifinals. He bounced back with a thrilling 10-8 overtime win over the Cobbers’ Travis Deegan in the consolation semifinal. Erickson entered the third period down 4-3 with 1:43 of riding time against him, gave up a takedown but then scored a reversal. The ensuing escape made it 7-5, but Deegan was called for stalling and Erickson earned a takedown with four seconds left on the edge of the mat to tie it at 8-8. Erickson rode the momentum to a takedown with 38 seconds left in the sudden-victory overtime to advance to the third-place match, where he tallied a 6-2 win to punch his ticket and improve his record to 17-11 on the year.

Dodd suffered a tough loss in his first match of the day at 184 pounds but battled back with three straight wins to earn his first trip to nationals. On the bottom and ahead 2-1, Dodd gave up a four-point near-fall with 20 seconds remaining in the 6-2 opening-round loss. He retaliated with a pin and advanced to the third-place match with a 9-5 decision. Dodd amassed 5:12 of riding time in a 9-0 major-decision win over Concordia’s Ricky Briggs to claim third and move his record to 18-9 on the season.

Becker just missed a technical fall (19-5) in his first match of the day, but lost his semifinal bout via technical fall (20-3) at 133 pounds. He bounced back with a pin in the consolation semifinal and edged Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Cody Vogel, 9-6, to take third place. Becker became the first SJU freshman to make the national tournament since Dustin Baxter ’12 in 2008.

Sophomore Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) just missed a trip to nationals with a 4-2 loss to Augsburg’s Grant Parker in the third-place match. He finished 3-2 on the day to end his season with a 20-14 record.

Sophomore Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) finished fifth at 141 pounds (1-2 record), while sophomore Anthony Hennen (Cologne, Minn./Norwood-Young America) and Branden Schorr ’17 claimed sixth at 125 and 149 pounds, respectively.

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