Wartburg 16, Augsburg 15

Auggies edged on criteria in Battle of the Burgs

MINNEAPOLIS — In a “Battle of the Burgs” meeting of traditional NCAA Division III wrestling powerhouses, No. 3-ranked Wartburg College edged No. 1-ranked Augsburg University 16-15, in a battle that ended up being decided on tiebreaker criteria before 1,004 spectators on Thursday night at Si Melby Hall.

Both teams won five bouts, all by decisions, with the team score ending up 15-15. But under the NCAA’s third tiebreaker criteria, Wartburg gained the bonus point for the dual victory by outscoring Augsburg 47-43 in total match points scored by wrestlers.

Wartburg, winners of the last three NCAA Division III national titles, now leads the all-time series with Augsburg 20-16. The annual “Battle of the Burgs” dual meet features the two teams that have dominated Division III wrestling over the last three decades. Since 1995, every Division III national title has rested at either Augsburg or Wartburg, with Augsburg winning 12 titles since 1991 and Wartburg winning 14 titles since 1996. The Auggies entered Thursday’s dual ranked No. 1 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national rankings, while the Knights were ranked No. 3.

The Auggies opened the match with two straight victories. At 125 pounds, Augsburg’s No. 3-ranked Victor Gliva (JR, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS) and Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Brady Kyner staged an epic battle, with the pair exchanging takedowns and escapes, with the bout tied 5-5 after two periods. Kyner took a 6-5 lead with an escape with 1:03 left in the third period, but Gliva rallied back and scored a takedown with 22 seconds left to claim the victory, improving to 18-4 on the season.

In a rematch of last year’s 133-pound national championship, Augsburg’s No. 4-ranked Sam Bennyhoff (SR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) scored a 7-4 triumph over Wartburg’s defending national titlist, top-ranked Brock Rathbun. Bennyhoff surrendered a reversal early in the second period, but rallied back to tie the bout at 3-3 after two periods. In the third, Bennyhoff converted an escape with 1:35 left, then a takedown with 1:12 left, and used 1:13 of riding time to improve to 16-3 on the season. Rathbun suffered his first loss to a Division III opponent this season, falling to 21-3. The all-time series between the two wresters is now even at 2-2.

Wartburg tied the match at 6-6 with wins in the next two bouts. At 141, a takedown with nine seconds left in the third period enabled Wartburg’s No. 7-ranked Brady Fritz to claim a 3-1 victory over Augsburg’s No. 3-ranked David Flynn (JR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)). The loss, just Flynn’s second to a Division III opponent this season, sent him to 17-3 on the season. At 149, Wartburg’s Kris Rumph rallied from a 3-2 second-period deficit to score a 6-4 win over Augsburg’s No. 2-ranked Alex Wilson (SR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS), moving Wilson to 24-5 on the campaign.

The featured match of the evening came at 157, in a meeting of two defending national champions — defending 149-pound champ and current No. 1-ranked 157-pounder Cross Cannone of Wartburg, and defending 157-pound champ and No. 2-ranked Ryan Epps (JR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS) of Augsburg. Cannone used two takedowns to take a 4-1 lead after one period, then scored another takedown and built 1:37 of riding time in the third period to score an 8-4 win over Epps, improving to 21-0 with his 56th straight victory. Epps fell to 24-3 with his first loss to a Division III opponent this season.

At 165, defending national champion and top-ranked Lucas Jeske (JR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) remained unbeaten at 10-0 on the year, rallying from a 3-0 first-period deficit for a 4-3 win over Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Michael Ross. Riding on top the entire second period, Jeske forced Ross into three stalling calls, resulting in two penalty points. Jeske then scored an escape 19 seconds into the third period, and his 1:26 of riding time gave him the bonus point for the victory.

The 174-pound bout was a back-and-forth battle between Augsburg’s No. 5-ranked Tanner Vassar (JR, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) and Wartburg’s No. 4-ranked Kyle Briggs, with Briggs breaking a 4-4 third-period tie with a takedown with 1:17 left, and overcoming an escape 27 seconds later to score a 6-5 victory. Both wrestlers had a takedown and two escapes leading up to the 4-4 tie early in the third period.

Augsburg claimed victories in the next two bouts to take a 15-12 lead into the final match of the evening. At 184, No. 10-ranked Auggie Solomon Nielsen (SO, Luverne, Minn./Luverne HS) staged an impressive third-period rally for an 8-3 win over Isaiah Cox. Trailing 3-0 after two periods, he scored an escape six seconds into the third period, then scored a takedown with 52 seconds left, collected a stalling bonus point, then finished the bout with a strong move for a four-point near-fall — the only back points of the night for either team — to improve to 16-3 on the season.

At 197, No. 4-ranked Lance Benick (SO, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS) improved to 18-3 on the season with a 3-2 win in a tight battle with No. 8-ranked Kobe Woods. Benick gained the lone takedown of the bout with 31 seconds left in the first period, which proved to be the difference in the match.

Wartburg’s Bowen Wileman closed the match with a 6-0 win at heavyweight over Augsburg’s Ethan Hofacker (JR, Spring Valley, Wis./Spring Valley HS), scoring two takedowns and building 4:55 of riding time in the victory.

Augsburg returns to action on Saturday (2/2) at 10 a.m., competing at the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Don Parker Open.

Thursday, January 31, 2019 — Si Melby Hall, Minneapolis, Minn.
Time of match: 2:42. Attendance: 1,004.
Officials: Zach McGillis, Spencer Beach.

No. 3 Wartburg (15-1) 16, No. 1 Augsburg (10-1) 15
125 — No. 3 Victor Gliva (AUG, 18-4) dec. No. 4 Brady Kyner (WAR, 19-5) 7-6 (Augsburg 3-0).
133 — No. 4 Sam Bennyhoff (AUG, 16-3) dec. No. 1 Brock Rathbun (WAR, 21-3) 7-4 (Augsburg 6-0).
141 — No. 7 Brady Fritz (WAR, 18-7) dec, No. 3 David Flynn (AUG, 17-3) 3-1 (Augsburg 6-3).
149 — Kris Rumph (WAR, 9-4) dec. No. 2 Alex Wilson (AUG, 24-5) 6-4 (TIED 6-6).
157 — No. 1 Cross Cannone (WAR, 22-0) dec. No. 2 Ryan Epps (AUG, 24-3) 8-4 (Wartburg 9-6).
165 — No. 1 Lucas Jeske (AUG, 10-0) dec. No. 4 Michael Ross (WAR, 18-3) 4-3 (TIED 9-9).
174 — No. 4 Kyle Briggs (WAR, 19-2) dec. No. 5 Tanner Vassar (AUG, 13-5) 6-5 (Wartburg 12-9).
184 — No. 10 Solomon Nielsen (AUG, 16-3) dec. Isaiah Cox (WAR, 16-10) 8-3 (TIED 12-12).
197 — No. 4 Lance Benick (AUG, 18-3) dec. No. 8 Kobe Woods (WAR, 16-6) 3-2 (Augsburg 15-2).
HWT — Bowen Wileman (WAR, 19-5) dec. Ethan Hofacker (AUG, 12-13) 6-0 (TIED 15-15).
Tiebreaker criteria C – Match points: Wartburg 47-43 (Wartburg 16-15).

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