Nine Auggies survive after first day of regional

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — With nine competitors still in championship contention and still alive for national tournament berths, the Augsburg University wrestling team stands in first place after the first day of the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Augsburg wrestlers went 19-2 on the first day of the two-day NCAA regional, with eight pins, five technical falls and two major decisions. Nine of the 10 Auggies advanced to Saturday’s (2/23) championship semifinals, with one wrestler being eliminated. The nine remaining Auggies still have shots at qualifying for the NCAA Division III National Championships, as the top three placers in each weight class earn bids.

As a team, Augsburg, ranked No. 2 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national rankings, leads the 17-team regional with 100.0 points after the first day, with No. 9-ranked Wisconsin-La Crosse in second with 83.0 points. No. 14-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater is in third place with 80.5 points.

Three Auggies recorded two pins each on the first day of competition to advance to the semifinals — No. 2-ranked 157-pounder Ryan Epps (JR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS), No. 5-ranked 174-pounder Tanner Vassar (JR, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) and No. 7-ranked 141-pounder David Flynn (JR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)). Epps is now 31-3 with 10 pins, while Vassar is 20-6 with 10 pins, and Flynn is 23-4 with 11 pins.

At 149, No. 7-ranked Alex Wilson (SR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS) improved to 32-5 with a pair of second-period technical falls, 18-0 and 20-2. He now has a team-leading 14 technical falls this season, and 26 bonus-point victories (eight pins, 14 technical falls, four major decisions) on the season.

No. 2-ranked 133-pounder Sam Bennyhoff (SR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) scored a 59-second pin and a 10-0 major decision win to advance to the semifinals with a 22-4 record. He is now 115-26 in his collegiate career.

At 125, No. 2-ranked Victor Gliva (JR, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS) claimed a 12-1 major decision win and a 15-0, third-period technical fall win to move to the semifinals. He is now 24-4 on the season with 16 bonus-point wins (seven pins, three technical falls, six major decisions).

At 184, No. 9-ranked Solomon Nielsen (SO, Luverne, Minn./Luverne HS) improved to 25-6 on the season with two victories, including a third-period pin in his opening match. He now has five pins on the year.

Top-ranked and defending 165-pound national champion Lucas Jeske (JR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) and No. 3-ranked 197-pounder Lance Benick (SO, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS) each had a technical fall among their two wins on the day. Jeske is now 15-0 on the year, while Benick is now 23-3.

Auggie heavyweight Ethan Hofacker (JR, Spring Valley, Wis./Spring Valley HS) saw his season come to an end with a 1-2 day at the regional. He dropped his first match, but scored a 1:54 pin in the wrestlebacks before dropping a 6-2 decision. Hofacker finished his season at 14-15 and has 42 victories, with 17 pins, in his Auggie career.

The regional resumes on Saturday (2/23) at 10 a.m. with championship semifinals, consolation quarterfinals and semifinals, and placing matches for first, third and fifth. The top three finishers in each class will advance to the NCAA Division III National Championships, to be held March 8-9 in Roanoke, Va.

Friday’s Augsburg Individual Results

125 — No. 2 Victor Gliva (24-4)
Champ. Round 1 – Victor Gliva maj. dec. Jack Marley (UW-Eau Claire) 12-1
Quarterfinals – Victor Gliva tech. fall over Marco Padilla (Concordia-Wisconsin) 15-0 at 6:12

133 — No. 2 Sam Bennyhoff (22-4)
Champ. Round 1 – Sam Bennyhoff pinned Justin Hames (Elmhurst) 0:59
Quarterfinal – Sam Bennyhoff maj. dec. Benjamin Bogart (Concordia-Moorhead) 10-0

141 — No. 7 David Flynn (23-4)
Champ. Round 1 – David Flynn pinned Mike Day (Pacific-Ore.) 5:19
Quarterfinal – David Flynn pinned Jake Drexler (UW-Eau Claire) 6:15

149 — No. 7 Alex Wilson (32-5)
Champ. Round 1 – Alex Wilson tech. fall Anthony Hennen (Saint John’s) 18-0 at 3:55
Quarterfinal – Alex Wilson tech. fall Alex Heiden (UW-Stevens Point) 20-2 at 4:59

157 — No. 2 Ryan Epps (31-3)
Champ. Round 1 – Ryan Epps pinned Eric Martinson (Concordia-Wisconsin) 2:12
Quarterfinal – Ryan Epps pinned Muzi Siseltha (UW-Oshkosh) 3:48

165 — No. 1 Lucas Jeske (15-0)
Champ. Round 1 – Lucas Jeske tech. fall Garrett Passmore (UW-Platteville) 19-2 at 5:45
Quarterfinal – Lucas Jeske dec. Travis Deegan (Concordia-Moorhead) 4-0

174 — No. 5 Tanner Vassar (20-6)
Champ. Round 1 – Tanner Vassar pinned Hunter Harrison (Wheaton-Ill.) 3:42
Quarterfinal – Tanner Vassar pinned Nick Gravdahl (Concordia-Moorhead) 3:23

184 — No. 9 Solomon Nielsen (25-6)
Champ. Round 1 – Solomon Nielsen pinned Patrick Penick (Pacific-Ore.) 6:42
Quarterfinal – Solomon Nielsen dec. Mark Miller (Elmhurst) 6-3

197 — No. 3 Lance Benick (23-3)
Champ. Round 1 – Lance Benick tech. fall Max Schmitz (UW-Platteville) 20-2 at 2:53
Quarterfinal – Lance Benick dec. Natan Jara (Wheaton-Ill.) 8-4

HWT — Ethan Hofacker (14-15)
Champ. Round 1 – Grant Miller (Wheaton-Ill.) dec. Ethan Hofacker 3-1
Cons. Round 1 – Ethan Hofacker pinned Collin Riley (Concordia-Wisconsin) 1:54
Cons. Round 2 – Patrick Mulkerin (Chicago) dec. Ethan Hofacker 6-2

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