EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — The No. 2-ranked Augsburg University wrestling team claimed an NCAA Division III regional title for the 17th straight year, qualifying individuals in nine weight classes, including five regional champions, to the national championships at the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional, completed on Saturday at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Augsburg, ranked No. 2 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national poll, won the 17-team regional with 191.0 points. Augsburg has won the team title in its NCAA regional every year since starting regional competition in the 2002-03 season.
With its nine national tournament qualifiers, Augsburg has had seven or more national tournament qualifiers in 16 of the last 17 seasons. Augsburg had five regional champions, three runners-up and one third-place finisher. The top three finishers in each weight class qualify for the national tournament.
Augsburg wrestlers went 15-4 in Saturday’s action, with two pins, a technical fall and five major decisions. In the two-day tournament, the Auggies combined for a 34-6 record, with 11 pins, six technical falls and seven major decisions.
Augsburg Head Coach Jim Moulsoff shared the Upper Midwest Region Coach of the Year award with Wisconsin-Whitewater coach Matt Zwaschka, while Augsburg’s Tony Valek was named Region Assistant Coach of the Year by his coaching peers.
No. 2-ranked 133-pounder Sam Bennyhoff (SR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) earned his fourth straight NCAA regional title and fourth trip to the national tournament with two victories over ranked opponents on Saturday, beating No. 8-ranked Josh Stenger of Wisconsin-La Crosse 10-4 — his third win over Stenger this season — in the semifinals, then claiming a 9-0 major-decision win over No. 7-ranked Ben Vosters of UW-Stevens Point in the finals. Bennyhoff recorded a pin and two major decisions among his four wins on the weekend to improve to 24-4 on the season and 117-26 in his career. A national runner-up at 133 last season, Bennyhoff has five pins, two technical falls and seven major decisions among his 24 wins this season. In his career, he has 22 pins, 17 technical falls and 33 major decisions.
Defending 165-pound national champion Lucas Jeske (JR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) remaimed unbeaten at 17-0 with a first-period pin and an 11-2 major-decision win over Nicholas Bonomo of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals. He claimed his third straight regional title and third straight trip to the national tournament. In addition to his national title last year, he placed third nationally at 165 in 2017. On the season, Jeske has four pins, two technical falls and two major decisions. The top-ranked wrestler nationally at 165, Jeske is now 81-9 in his Augsburg career,with 34 pins, eight technical falls and 13 major decisions to his credit.
Defending 157-pound national titlist Ryan Epps (JR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS) earned his third trip to the national tournament with his third regional title, scoring a 13-2 major-decision win in the semifinals and an 8-3 win over No. 8-ranked Grant Zamin of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the finals. Epps, now ranked No. 2 nationally at 157, is 33-3 on the season with 10 pins, a technical fall and four major decisions. In his Auggie career, Epps is now 108-11 with 23 pins, seven technical falls and 15 major decisions.
At 149, No. 7-ranked Alex Wilson (SR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS) earned his second trip to the national tournament with his first regional title, claiming the crown with a pair of shutout wins — 2-0 in the semifinals and an 8-0 major-decision win over Ty Johnson of Concordia-Moorhead in the finals. He has claimed two major decision wins over Johnson this season, outscoring him by an 18-0 margin.
No. 3-ranked 197-pounder Lance Benick (SO, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS) earned his first trip to the national tournament with a regional title, scoring a 5:41 pin of Luke Dodd of Saint John’s in the semifinals and a 5-3, overtime win over Riley Kauzlaric of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals. A transfer last season from Division I Arizona State, Benick improved to 25-3 on the season with seven pins, three technical falls and two major decisions, and is now 36-8 in his two seasons at Augsburg with nine pins, three technical falls and five major decisions.
No. 7-ranked 141-pounder David Flynn (JR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)) finished second at the regional, earning his third straight trip to the national tournament. After a 3-2 win in the semifinals, he suffered a first-period pin at the hands of No. 8-ranked Hazen Rice of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He is now 24-5 on the season with 11 pins, a technical fall and four major decisions. A transfer from Division I North Dakota who placed third nationally at 141 for the Auggies in 2017, Flynn is now 69-16 in his Auggie years and 97-30 in his collegiate career.
At 125, No. 2-ranked Victor Gliva (JR, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS) earned his third straight trip to the national tournament with his second straight regional runner-up finish, after winning the regional in 2017. He scored a 2-0 win in the semifinals before being edged 6-4 by No. 5-ranked Mike Tortorice of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals. An All-American in 2017 with an eighth-place finish at 125, Gliva is now 25-5 on the sesaon with seven pins, three technical falls and six major decisions, and is 86-20 in his career with 22 pins, nine technical falls and 19 major decisions.
At 184, No. 9-ranked Solomon Nielsen (SO, Luverne, Minn./Luverne HS) will compete in his first national tournament, after finishing second in his weight class. He scored a 10-5 win over No. 6-ranked Isaac Odell of Wheaton (Ill.) in the semifinals, but dropped a 9-6 decision to Nick Stencel of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals. Nielsen is now 26-7 on the season with five pins, a technical fall and three major decisions, and is 53-14 in his career with 20 pins, two technical falls and nine major decisions.
No. 5-ranked 174-pounder Tanner Vassar (JR, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) had to rally to earn his second straight trip to the national tournament, after suffering an 11-9 defeat at the hands of No. 9-ranked Ben Sarasin of Chicago (Ill.) in the semifinals. He did so in style, scoring a third-period, 16-0 technical fall win in the wrestlebacks, then claiming an 11-2 major-decision win over No. 4-ranked Sawyer Massie of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the third-place match, avenging an earlier 10-9 loss to Massie on Jan. 4 at the NWCA Division III National Duals. Vassar is now 22-7 on the season with 10 pins, three technical falls and four major decisions, and is now 88-27 in his career with 30 pins, nine technical falls and 10 major decisions.
The nine Auggie qualifiers will compete at the NCAA Division III National Championships, to be held March 8-9 at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Va.
SATURDAY’S AUGSBURG INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
125 — No. 2 Victor Gliva (25-5) — 2nd Place
Semifinal – Victor Gliva dec. Sawyer Sarbacker (UW-La Crosse) 2-0
1st Place Match – No. 5 Mike Tortorice (UW-Whitewater) dec. Victor Gliva 6-4
133 — No. 2 Sam Bennyhoff (24-4) — 1st Place
Semifinal – Sam Bennyhoff dec. No. 8 Josh Stenger (UW-La Crosse) 10-4
1st Place Match – Sam Bennyhoff maj. dec. No. 7 Ben Vosters (UW-Stevens Point) 9-0
141 — No. 7 David Flynn (24-5) — 2nd Place
Semifinal – David Flynn dec. Hayden Schlough (UW-La Crosse) 3-2
1st Place Match – No. 8 Hazen Rice (UW-Whitewater) pinned David Flynn 0:55
149 — No. 7 Alex Wilson (34-5) — 1st Place
Semifinal – Alex Wilson dec. Logan Schlough (UW-La Crosse) 2-0
1st Place Match – Alex Wilson maj. dec. Ty Johnson (Concordia-Moorhead) 8-0
157 — No. 2 Ryan Epps (33-3) — 1st Place
Semifinal – Ryan Epps maj. dec. Steve Bonsall (Chicago) 13-2
1st Place Match – Ryan Epps dec. No. 8 Grant Zamin (UW-La Crosse) 8-3
165 — No. 1 Lucas Jeske (17-0) — 1st Place
Semifinal – Lucas Jeske pinned Kahlan Lee-Lermer (Chicago) 2:34
1st Place Match – Lucas Jeske maj. dec. Nicholas Bonomo (UW-Whitewater) 11-2
174 — No. 5 Tanner Vassar (22-7) — 3rd Place
Semifinal – No. 9 Ben Sarasin (Chicago) dec. Tanner Vassar 11-9
Cons. Semi – Tanner Vassar tech. fall James Borgen (UW-Stevens Point) 16-0 at 5:10
3rd Place Match – Tanner Vassar maj. dec. No. 4 Sawyer Massie (UW-La Crosse) 11-2
184 — No. 9 Solomon Nielsen (26-7) — 2nd Place
Semifinal – Solomon Nielsen dec. No. 6 Isaac Odell (Wheaton-Ill.) 10-5
1st Place Match – Nick Stencel (UW-Whitewater) dec. Solomon Nielsen 9-6
197 — No. 3 Lance Benick (25-3) — 1st Place
Semifinal – Lance Benick pinned Luke Dodd (Saint John’s) 5:41
1st Place Match – Lance Benick dec. Riley Kauzlaric (UW-Whitewater) 5-3 (OT-SV1)