Auggies win 2 individual titles, take 2nd at nationals

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two Augsburg University wrestlers won individual titles on Saturday evening, lifting the Auggies to a second-place team finish at the NCAA Division III National Championships at the Cleveland Public Auditorium.

augslogoFINAL TOP 10 TEAM SCORES: 1. Wartburg (Iowa) 136.5, 2. Augsburg (Minn.) 82.0, 3. Ithaca (N.Y.) 79.0, 4. Stevens Tech (N.J.) 55.0; 5. Wabash (Ind.) 44.0; 6. Johnson & Wales (R.I.) 43.5, 7. Wisconsin-La Crosse 42.5, 8. Messiah (Pa.) 38.0, 9. Wisconsin-Whitewater 35.0, 10t. Mount Union (Ohio) 34.5, 10t. Oneonta State (N.Y.) 34.5.

With five All-Americans, Augsburg finished in second place in the team race with 82.0 points, edging past third-place Ithaca’s 79.0 points. Wartburg (Iowa) won its fourth straight national title with 136.5 points.

Lucas Jeske (SO, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) claimed the national championship and earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award for Augsburg at 165 pounds, thoroughly dominating his bout with Nick Velez of Ithaca in a 15-0, 7:00 technical fall. Jeske was able to convert three takedowns, a two-point near-fall and a four-point near-fall, building 2:38 of riding time in the victory. Earlier on Saturday, Jeske claimed his third pin of the weekend, with a 1:43 win over Anthony Arroyo of Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio). A third-place national finisher last year at 165, Jeske finished 39-1 on the season and is 65-9 in his career.

Ryan Epps (SO, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS) finished his season in dramatic fashion, scoring a takedown on a single-leg drive with 33 seconds left in the first sudden-death overtime period, winning the 157-pound national title with a 3-1 win over Logan Thomsen of Wartburg. Both wrestlers were successful in fighting off numerous shots by their opponent throughout the match, and it entered overtime tied 1-1. Epps finished the season with a 26-match winning streak, finishing 41-1 in his second national tournament campaign. He is 76-8 in his career.

Sam Bennyhoff (JR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) earned national runner-up honors at 133 pounds, dropping a 12-5 decision to Wartburg’s Brock Rathbun in the title match. Bennyhoff took an early 2-0 lead, but Rathbun was able to convert three takedowns and a near-fall to clinch the win, building 2:40 of riding time. Earlier in the day, Bennyhoff scored a 15-3 major decision win over Joao Vicente of Johnson & Wales (R.I.) in the semifinals. An All-American for the first time, Bennyhoff finished 35-6 on the season and is 93-22 in his career.

Competing in his first national tournament, Alex Wilson (JR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS) finished with a fifth-place national finish at 149 pounds to earn All-American honors. Wilson finished his junior season at 35-7 on the season and is 93-31 in his career.

Also competing in his first national tournament, Tanner Vassar (SO, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) finished in seventh place at 174 pounds to earn All-American honors. Vassar finished his sophomore season at 35-10 and is 67-20 in his career.

Augsburg has finished among the top two teams in national wrestling competition 25 times since 1975, winning national titles 12 times in NCAA Division III competition and earning runner-up honors 13 times (12 in Division III, once in NAIA).

Augsburg has now won 52 individual national championships in wrestling, including 48 NCAA Division III national titles, tied with Wartburg for the most in Division III history.

Augsburg has now earned 242 wrestling All-Americans in program history (206 in NCAA competition, 36 in NAIA). This is the 28th time since Augsburg became a Division III member in 1983 that the Auggies have had five or more wrestling All-Americans. Augsburg has had at least two All-Americans every year since 1988 and at least one All-American in national competition (NAIA 1968-1983, NCAA 1983-present) every year since 1977 — now a 42-year streak.

Jeske’s honor marks the sixth time an Augsburg wrestler has earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at the NCAA Division III National Championships. Also earning the honor for Augsburg: Gary Kroells (1993), Tom Layte (1995), Josh Cagle (2000), Joe Moon (2004) and Mike Fuenffinger (2015).


2018 NCAA Division III National Championships Results


  • 133: Sam Bennyhoff (Augsburg) maj. dec. Joao Vicente (Johnson & Wales) 15-3. National championship match: Brock Rathbun (Wartburg) dec. Bennyhoff 12-5.
  • 149: Cross Cannone (Wartburg) maj. dec. Alex Wilson (Augsburg) 8-0; Evan Drill (NYU) dec. Wilson 7-4. Fifth-place match: Wilson medical forfeit over Sean Peacock (Brockport State).
  • 157: Ryan Epps (Augsburg) dec. Cole Erickson (Coe) 3-1. National championship match: Epps dec. Logan Thomsen (Wartburg) 3-1 (OT-SV1).
  • 165: Lucas Jeske (Augsburg) pinned Anthony Arroyo (Baldwin-Wallace) 1:43. National championship match: Jeske tech. fall Nick Velez (Ithaca) 15-0 at 7:00.
  • 174: Darden Schurg (Wabash) pinned Tanner Vassar (Augsburg) 2:16. Seventh-place match: Vassar dec. Jake Voss (Coe) 8-3.

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