Season Preview: SJU Wrestling Hosts Buena Vista Friday for Opener

The Saint John’s wrestling team opens its 2018-19 season with a home dual against Buena Vista (Iowa) at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in Sexton Arena. The Johnnies follow that with a trip to Minneapolis Saturday, Nov. 17, for the annual Augsburg Open. – Live Video (Friday) | Live Results/Video (Saturday)

sjulogo A LOOK AT THE BEAVERS: Buena Vista (0-1 dual record) picked up a pair of second-place finishes Nov. 10 at the Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) Open. Seniors Shane Vaughan (165 pounds) and Dylan Huntoon (184 pounds) placed second, while senior Brad Kerkhoff took sixth at 165. Vaughan posted seven pins and an 11-9 record last year. Kerkhoff went 21-9 with an 8-1 record in duals last year.

LAST YEAR’S AUGGIE OPEN: SJU placed five wrestlers at last year’s Auggie-Adidas Invitational on Nov. 18 (2017) in Minneapolis. Senior Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) went 3-1 to finish second. He started his season with a technical fall (19-4) and advanced to the semifinal with a 9-5 win over Dalton Hahn of Division II Upper Iowa. Dodd posted a 3-1 overtime win over former Johnnie, Jackson Graham of Augsburg, in the semis, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Sean O’Neil in the championship bout.

Junior Noah Becker (Browerville, Minn.) opened his season with a 5-1 win following a first-round bye, but fell to fifth-ranked Sam Bennyhoff of Augsburg via major decision. He ended his day with an 8-5 loss in the third-place match to claim fourth. Junior Anthony Hennen (Cologne, Minn./Norwood-Young America) collected a 2-2 record to finish sixth at 141 pounds, while classmate Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) battled back from opening-round loss with three straight wins to win the consolation title at 133.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES (Season Preview): Nine upperclassmen, including four wrestlers who advanced to the second day of the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional, are expected to lead the Saint John’s University wrestling team in 2018-19.

The four Johnnies – Dodd, Hennen and juniors Dominic Skawiniak (Rogers, Minn.) and Quincy Spiering (Mounds View, Minn./St. Thomas Academy – posted 2-1 records during the first day of the regional. However, all four suffered defeats in the consolation quarterfinals as SJU finished 13th at the regional.

Another junior, Becker, and Dodd were 2017 entrants to the NCAA Division III Championships.

SJU welcomes eight newcomers to the 2018-19 roster, six of which are freshmen. The freshman class includes two Minnesota state entrants and a runner-up.

Ready for Year Two
Kevin Schiltz enters his second season as the SJU head wrestling coach and added three assistants to his staff in 2018-19. In addition to current assistants Chad Henle ’12 (fourth season) and Scott Fernholz ’93 (15th season), this year’s coaching staff includes Jake Clark, Shawn Hatlestad and Malik Stewart. A 2020 Olympic hopeful, Clark has competed in the last five Olympic trials (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), with runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2016. He is a two-time Olympic alternate (Athens in 2004 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016) and a seven-time member of the U.S. National Team. Clark served nine years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps and was an 11-time Armed Forces gold medalist for the USMC.

A product of New London-Spicer High School, Hatlestad compiled an 80-45 record between 149 and 157 pounds from 2012-16 at Division II Augustana (S.D.). Stewart, meanwhile, was a three-time national qualifier with 50 career wins from 2006-10 at NAIA Dakota Wesleyan. A former CSB/SJU admission representative, Stewart currently works a development officer within the Office of Institutional Advancement at Saint Benedict.

Solo Senior
Dodd was ranked nationally at 184 pounds throughout the 2017-18 season and went 15-10, including a 14-7 record in tournaments and an 8-7 mark non-Division III opponents. Dodd won the St. Cloud State Husky Open at 184 pounds, and placed second in the Augsburg-Adidas Invitational and North Country Open.

Browerville’s Becker
The leader of this year’s junior class, Becker, posted a 20-10 record last season. He went 18-8 in tournaments and 19-6 against non-Division III foes, with a pair of tournament wins last season; Dec. 2 at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Open and Jan. 6 at the Ridgewater Open.

Eight juniors will wrestle for Saint John’s this season, half of the team’s roster. Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) and Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) both tied for second on the team with 15 wins last season. Novak (15-13 record at 157 pounds) took third at the Ridgewater Open and was bothered by a nagging knee injury during the second half of the season. He underwent knee surgery this fall and is expected to join the Johnnies after the holidays. Smith (15-14 at 133 pounds) won the consolation title at the Augsburg Open and placed second at the MSU-Moorhead Dragon Open. Spiering finished 10-8 at heavyweight last season, including a 2-2 record at the NCAA regional. Hennen went 13-18 at 141 pounds with a 2-2 mark at the regional and the consolation championship at the UW-Eau Claire Open.

The 2018-19 Schedule
SJU opens its 2018-19 season Nov. 16 with a home dual, the first of three, against Buena Vista (Iowa) in Sexton Arena. The Johnnies compete the following day at the Augsburg Open in Minneapolis and make the short trip to St. Cloud State Dec. 9 for the Husky Open. SJU leaves the state three consecutive weekends after Christmas: Dec. 29-30 at the Citrus Open in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Jan. 5 at the Central Invitational in Pella, Iowa; and Jan. 12 at the Elmhurst Invitational in Elmhurst, Ill. The Johnnies host a pair of duals on back-to-back Fridays, Division II Northern State (S.D.) Jan. 18 and Concordia-Moorhead Jan. 25. The annual North Country Open is set for Jan. 26 in Collegeville. SJU’s dual Feb. 8 at Augsburg is sandwiched by two trips to Eau Claire, Wis. The Johnnies take on the Blugolds Feb. 1 in a dual the night before the Blugold Open Feb. 2, and return to Wisconsin for the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional Feb. 22-23. The 2019 NCAA Division III Championships are March 8-9 in Roanoke, Va.

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