5 Auggies win opening matches at Division III nationals

CLEVELAND, Ohio — With five wrestlers winning opening-round matches, the Augsburg University wrestling team stands in fourth place with 9.0 points after the first session of the NCAA Division III National Championships on Friday afternoon at the Cleveland Public Auditorium.

augslogoTOP 10 TEAM SCORES AFTER ROUND 1: 1. Wartburg (Iowa) 16.5, 2. Ithaca (N.Y.) 12.0, 3. Messiah (Pa.) 10.0, 4. Augsburg (Minn.) 9.0, 5t. Johnson & Wales (R.I.) 7.0, 5t. Stevens Tech (N.J.) 7.0, 7t. Oneonta State (N.Y.) 6.0, 7t. Wabash (Ind.) 6.0, 7t. Wesleyan (Conn.) 6.0, 10. Wisconsin-La Crosse 5.5.

Five of the eight Augsburg wrestlers in the field claimed victories in Friday’s opening session, advancing to national quarterfinals during Friday night’s second session. Three Auggies dropped their opening matches and will have to win twice in Friday’s evening session to secure All-American honors and remain alive in the field.

As a team, Augsburg ranked No. 2 in the final National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national poll, stands in fourth place after the first session with 9.0 points. Defending national champion and top-ranked Wartburg (Iowa) leads the field with 16.5 points, with eight of its nine wrestlers winning their opening-round matches.

Ryan Epps (SO, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS), the top-seed at 157 pounds in the tournament, overcame an early 2-1 deficit and took advantage of his strength on top in the second period of his opening match, converting an armbar into a 3:53 pin of Tyler Marsh of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.). Epps, now 39-1 on the season and 26-1 against Division III competition, extended his winning streak to 23 straight matches. The fall was Epps’ eighth of the season. Competing in his second national tournament, he will try for his first All-American honor in Friday night’s quarterfinals.

Lucas Jeske (SO, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS), the No. 2 seed at 165 pounds, also claimed a pin in his opening match, with a 4:52 match-ender over Adrian Gonzalez of Johnson & Wales (R.I.). Jeske took a 6-0 lead after one period on a takedown and two late two-point near-falls, then fought off a double-leg attack by Gonzalez and eventually converted a front headlock into a pin, his team-leading 20th of the season. An All-American last season with a third-place finish at 165, Jeske is now 36-1 on the season.

Competing in his third national tournament, Sam Bennyhoff (JR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) scored the only point of his opening bout, an escape five seconds into the second period, to claim a 1-0 win over Owen McClave of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (N.Y.). McClave chose the neutral position to start the third period, but neither wrestler could convert for any points in the final frame. Bennyhoff, now 33-5 on the season, will compete for his first All-American honor in Friday night’s session.

David Flynn (SO, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)), opened his second national tournament run with a 7-2 victory over Austin Shorey of Southern Maine at 141. Flynn surrendered a takedown in the first period, then scored seven points in a row. He converted an escape and takedown in the first period, scored an escape in the second period and scored another takedown in the third, building up 1:50 of riding time for the extra point. A third-place finisher last season, Flynn will aim for his second All-America honor later on Friday.

Alex Wilson (JR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS), seeded No. 5 at 149 in his first national tournament, also rallied from an early deficit in a 7-2 win over Christopher Muce of Centenary (N.J.). Trailing 1-0 in the second period, he converted an impressive takedown to take a 2-1 lead, then scored an escape and takedown in the third period, building 3:09 of riding time to claim the win. Now 33-5 on the season, Wilson will aim for his first All-America finish later on Friday.

Victor Gliva (SO, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS), seeded No. 7 at 125, fell victim to a third-period pin, as unseeded Sean Redington of Messiah (Pa.) claimed a reversal and quick fall at the 6:10 mark of the match. Now 28-7 on the year, Gliva will have to win twice in the second session to earn his second All-America honor. He finished eighth nationally last season.

Sebastian Larson (SR, River Falls, Wis./River Falls HS) got an escape early in the second period, but Christos Giatras of Augustana (Ill.) scored a takedown soon after, then used an escape early in the third period to claim a 3-2 victory, sending Larson to the wrestlebacks at 184. Competing in his second national tournament, Larson, now 27-11 on the year, will have to win twice later Friday to claim All-American honors.

Tanner Vassar (SO, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) was unable to score in his first career national tournament match, surrendering a 9-0 major decision to Daniel Kilroy of The College of New Jersey. Kilroy scored a takedown in each period and collected 3:32 of riding time in the win. Vassar, now 32-9 on the season, will also have to win twice on Friday night to remain alive and earn All-American honors.

The second session of the national tournament starts at 6 p.m. (Central time) on Friday. The session, known as the “All-American round,” eliminates the field to eight wrestlers in each class, who earn All-American honors.


  • 125: Sean Redington (Messiah, 26-22) pinned Victor Gliva (Augsburg, 28-7) 6:10.
  • 133: Sam Bennyhoff (Augsburg, 33-5) dec. Owen McClave (Coast Guard, 25-9) 1-0.
  • 141: David Flynn (Augsburg, 20-4) dec. Austin Shorey (Southern Maine, 33-9) 7-2.
  • 149: Alex Wilson (Augsburg, 33-5) dec. Christopher Muce (Centenary-N.J., 26-8) 6-1.
  • 157: Ryan Epps (Augsburg, 39-1) pinned Tyler Marsh (WPI, 27-6) 3:53.
  • 165: Lucas Jeske (Augsburg, 36-1) pinned Adrian Gonzalez (Johnson & Wales, 34-14) 4:52.
  • 174: Daniel Kilroy (College of New Jersey, 22-6) maj. dec. Tanner Vassar (Augsburg, 32-9) 9-0.
  • 184: Christos Giatras (Augustana-Ill., 26.2) dec. Sebastian Larson (Augsburg, 27-11) 3-2.

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