Auggies clinch championship, put 4 in title matches

ROANOKE, Va. — Placing four individuals in national title matches later in the evening and clinching three other All-American finishes, Augsburg University clinched its 13th NCAA Division III wrestling national championship during the early session on Saturday of the NCAA Division III National Championships at the Berglund Center.

With its 112 points and a 46-point lead over second-place Loras (Iowa), Augsburg clinched its 13th NCAA Division III wrestling national title during the early session on Saturday, prior to the 10 individual national championship bouts. The title is Augsburg’s first since 2015 and its second for head coach Jim Moulsoff. Augsburg previously won national crowns in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2015.

Augsburg will have four individuals competing for individual national championships during Saturday’s final session, which begins at 6 p.m. Central time. Two Auggies will attempt to defend their national titles from last season — 165-pounder Lucas Jeske (JR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) and 157-pounder Ryan Epps (JR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS).

Jeske extended his winning streak to 30 straight matches and earned a spot in the title match in dramatic fashion, with a 9-7, sudden-victory overtime win in the semifinals over Kyle Hatch of Wabash (Ind.). Trailing 6-0 after a takedown and four-point near-fall in the first period, Jeske began a methodical comeback. Jeske rode Hatch for the entire second period to gain a bonus-point advantage. He then converted an escape and takedown with 1:25 left to cut the lead to 6-4. Surrendering an escape, he then claimed another takedown with 25 seconds left in regulation, and his 1:40 of riding time tied the match at 7-7 to force overtime. He then claimed the winning takedown with 12 seconds left in the first one-minute sudden-victory session to improve to 20-0 on the season. A three-time All-American who also finished third nationally in 2017, Jeske is now 85-9 in his Auggie career. Jeske will face Dempsey King of the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.) in the national title match.

Epps put himself into his second straight national title match with a strong effort in a 6-4 semifinal win over Bradan Birt of Millikin (Ill.) — his second two-point win over Birt this season. Trailing 2-0 early, Epps converted a first-period reversal, then used an escape and takedown to build a 5-2 second-period lead, eventually building 2:28 of riding time to clinch the win, improving to 36-3 on the season and 112-11 in his Auggie career. Competing in his third national tournament, Epps will face Antwon Pugh of Mount Union (Ohio) in the national championship match.

David Flynn (JR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)) used his strength to earn a spot in the 141-pound national championship match for the first time in his career, scoring a 4-2 semifinal win over Clint Lembeck of Loras (Iowa). Leading 1-0 after one period, Flynn controlled Lembeck by riding him the entire second period, then scoring a reversal with 1:27 left in the match. He secured the win with a 2:34 riding-time advantage. With the win, Flynn claimed his 100th career collegiate victory, including his time spent at Division I North Dakota State before transferring to Augsburg. Flynn is now 100-30 in his career, 72-16 at Augsburg, and is 27-5 this season. Flynn will face Chris Williams of Millikin in the national title match. The two faced each other in a Dec. 15 dual meet, with Flynn scoring a 3-1 (OT-SV1) win.

At 197, Lance Benick (SO, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS) became a national finalist in dramatic fashion, with a 5-1 semifinal victory over Guy Patron Jr. of Loras (Iowa), his second win over Patron this season. Tied at 1-1 in a close battle late in the third period, Benick worked for a double-arm underhook, then converted an incredible throw, putting Patron on his back for a takedown and two-point near-fall with 12 seconds left in the match. In his second year at Augsburg after spending a redshirt year at Division I Arizona State in 2015-16, Benick is now 28-3 on the season and 39-8 in his Auggie career. Benick will face Keajion Jennings of Millikin (Ill.) in the national title match. The two met in a Dec. 15 dual meet, with Jennings edging Benick 5-4.

THREE AUGGIE ALL-AMERICANS

Three Auggies ended their season with All-American finishes during Saturday’s early session. At 149 pounds, Alex Wilson (SR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS) capped his career with his second All-America finish, placing fourth after last year’s fifth-place finish. In the semifinals, Wilson couldn’t gain any momentum against Ryan Budzek of The College of New Jersey in an 8-1 loss. But he bounced back with a 6-1 triumph over Zachary Cooper of Alma (Mich.) in the wrestlebacks, using a takedown and four-point near-fall in the first period, and a reversal in the second to claim the win. In the third-place match, he dropped a 15-3 major decision to Brett Kaliner of Stevens Tech (N.J.), giving up four takedowns, a two-point near-fall and a four-point near-fall. Wilson finished his senior year at 37-7 and his Augsburg career at 130-38.

Victor Gliva (JR, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS), competing in his third national tournament, earned his second All-America honor with a fifth-place finish at 125, after finishing in eighth place in 2017. In the semifinals, Gliva built a 3-1 lead over Mike Tortorice of Wisconsin-Whitewater, but surrendered a takedown with 33 seconds left in regulation, and another with 24 seconds left in sudden-victory overtime, in a 5-3 loss. He then suffered another narrow loss in the semifinals, falling 3-1 to Ferdinand Mase of Ithaca (N.Y.). But he scored a big win in the fifth-place match, collecting his second pin of the tournament and ninth of the season, a 4:03 match-ender over Cameron Timok of Central (Iowa). Gliva finished his junior campaign at 28-7 and is now 89-22 in his career.

At 174, Tanner Vassar (JR, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) scored his second All-America honor with a fifth-place finish, a two-spot jump from his seventh-place finish last year. In the consolations, Vassar met Ben Sarasin of Chicago (Ill.) for the third time this season and came away with his second win, building a 7-4 first-period advantage en route to an 8-6 win. He dropped a 4-0 decision to Daniel Kilroy of The College of New Jersey in his next match, but responded in the fifth-place match against Arthur Aeberli of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (Conn.), scoring a 19-4 technical fall. Vassar converted two takedowns, a reversal and a pair of late four-point near-falls to claim the big win, finishing his junior season at 26-9. He is now 93-29 in his Auggie career.

TOP 10 TEAM SCORES AFTER SATURDAY’S EARLY SESSION: 1. Augsburg (Minn.) 112.0; 2. Loras (Iowa) 66.0; 3. Ithaca (N.Y.) 59.5; 4. Johnson & Wales (R.I.) 57.0; 5. Mount Union (Ohio) 54.5; 6. Wartburg (Iowa) 52.0; 7. Wisconsin-Whitewater 49.5; 8. Millikin (Ill.) 42.0; 9. College of New Jersey 40.0; 10. Wabash (Ind.) 38.0.

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE

  • Augsburg’s 13 national titles are the second-most in NCAA Division III wrestling history, behind the 14 won by Wartburg (Iowa). The two teams have combined to win every NCAA Division III wrestling national title since 1995.
  • The four national finalists are Augsburg’s most in a single NCAA tournament since the 2011 season. Augsburg has now had four or more finalists in 10 national tournaments, with the record being six in 2005. Augsburg has had at least one national finalist in every tournament since 1995, a span of 25 straight years.
  • It marks the 13th time that Augsburg has recorded seven or more All-Americans in its NCAA national tournament history, and the first time since its last national title in 2015. Augsburg has had at least two All-Americans every year since 1988, and at least one All-American in either NCAA or NAIA national competition every year since 1977.
  • Augsburg has now earned 251 wrestling All-Americans in program history (213 in NCAA Division III, 38 in NAIA).

SATURDAY’S AUGSBURG RESULTS

  • 125: Mike Tortorice (Wisconsin-Whitewater) dec. Victor Gliva (Augsburg) 5-3 (OT-SV1); Ferdinand Mase (Ithaca) dec. Gliva 3-1. Fifth-place match: Gliva pinned Cameron Timok (Central) 4:03.
  • 141: David Flynn (Augsburg) dec. Clint Lembeck (Loras) 4-2. National championship match: Flynn vs. Chris Williams (Millikin).
  • 149: Ryan Budzek (College of New Jersey) dec. Alex Wilson (Augsburg) 8-1; Wilson dec. Zachary Cooper (Alma) 6-1. Third-place match: Brett Kaliner (Stevens Tech) maj. dec. Wilson 15-3.
  • 157: Ryan Epps (Augsburg) dec. Bradan Birt (Millikin) 6-4. National championship match: Epps vs. Antwon Pugh (Mount Union).
  • 165: Lucas Jeske (Augsburg) dec. Kyle Hatch (Wabash) 9-7. National championship match: Jeske vs. Dempsey King (Rochester Inst. of Tech.).
  • 174: Tanner Vassar (Augsburg) dec. Ben Sarasin (Chicago) 8-6; Daniel Kilroy (College of New Jersey) dec. Vassar 4-0. Fifth-place match: Vassar tech. fall Arthur Aeberli (Coast Guard Academy) 19-4 at 7:00.
  • 197: Lance Benick (Augsburg) dec. Guy Patron (Loras) 5-1. National championship match: Benick vs. Keajion Jennings (Millikin).

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