ROANOKE, Va. — Winning all four of its individual national title bouts on Saturday evening, the Augsburg University wrestling team claimed a 64-point victory at the NCAA Division III National Championships at the Berglund Center for its 13th national title in program history.
Augsburg finished with 130.0 points, 64 ahead of second-place Loras (Iowa), which had 64.0 points. The title is Augsburg’s first since 2015 and its second for head coach Jim Moulsoff, who was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s Division III National Coach of the Year for the second time. Augsburg previously won national crowns in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2015.
Four Auggies claimed national titles in Saturday’s evening sessions, including two repeat champions — 165-pounder Lucas Jeske (JR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) and 157-pounder Ryan Epps (JR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS). David Flynn (JR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)) claimed the crown at 141 pounds and Lance Benick (SO, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS) won the title at 197.
Epps won his second national title in bizarre fashion, with a disqualification in the third period over Antwon Pugh of Mount Union (Ohio) due to excessive cautions. Called for a stalling warning in the first period while building an 8-1 lead with two takedowns and a four-point near-fall, Pugh was called for stalling twice in the second period, as Epps rode him the entire two minutes. In the third period, Pugh was called for stalling for the fourth time with 1:22 left, then was called for a ffith time with 1:08 left, resulting in a automatic disqualification.
Earlier on Saturday, Epps scored a 6-4 semifinal win over Bradan Birt of Millikin (Ill.) — his second two-point win over Birt this season. A two-time All-American and three-time national tournament qualifier, Epps finished his junior season at 37-3 and is now 113-11 in his Auggie career.
Jeske finished his junior season with a 31-match winning streak dating to last season, when he also won the Division III national title at 165, and did it again with a 6-2 win over Dempsey King of the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.). Jeske used his strength to dominate the match, scoring takedowns in the first and second periods, while claiming 3:19 of riding time in the win.
Jeske reached the title match with an incredible 9-7, sudden-victory overtime win in the semifinals over Kyle Hatch of Wabash (Ind.), rallying from a 6-0 first-period deficit with a methodical comeback, forcing overtime with a takedown 25 seconds left in regulation and 1:40 of riding time for a bonus point, then claiming the winning takedown with 12 seconds left in the sudden-victory session. A three-time All-American who also finished third nationally in 2017, Jeske finished his junior year at 21-0 and is now 86-9 in his Auggie career.
At 141, Flynn claimed his first national title in dramatic fashion, rallying from a 3-2 deficit in the third period with a takedown with 33 seconds left in the match, scoring a 4-3 victory over Chris Williams of Millikin (Ill.) — his second win over Williams this season. Williams took a 2-1 lead on a takedown with 1:35 left in the second period, countering a single-leg attempt by Flynn. After Flynn tied the match with an escape late in the second, Williams took the lead with an escape to open the third, setting the stage for Flynn’s heroics.
Flynn reached the championship match with a 4-2 semifinal win over Clint Lembeck of Loras (Iowa) earlier in the day. Leading 1-0 after one period, Flynn controlled Lembeck by riding him the entire second period, then scored a reversal with 1:27 left in the match. He secured the win with a 2:34 riding-time advantage. A three-time national tournament qualifier and two-time All-American who finished third in 2017, Flynn finished his junior year at 28-5 and is now 101-30 in his career (73-16 at Augsburg).
At 197, Benick held firm control in his bout against Keajion Jennings of Millikin (Ill.), avenging a December loss to Jennings with an 8-5 win in Saturday’s national title match. Leading 4-3 after two periods, Benick scored a reversal with 1:34 left in the match, and following an escape by Jennings, clinched the win with a takedown with 34 seconds left.
Benick reached the title match with a dramatic 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 finished his sophomore year at 29-3, and is now 40-8 in his Auggie career.
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.
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.
- Augsburg is one of just four teams in all NCAA divisions to have won 10 or more wrestling national titles. Oklahoma State has won 34 Division I titles, Iowa has won 23 in Division I, Wartburg has won 14 in Division III and Augsburg has now won 13 in Division III.
- It’s the fourth time that Augsburg has had four individual national titlists in one championships, the most of any Division III school. Augsburg also accomplished the feat in 2000, 2004 and 2005. Wartburg has accomplished the feat twice (2004 and 2012), John Carroll (Ohio) did it in 1975 and Montclair State (N.J.) did it in 1976.
- Augsburg’s four national finalists were its 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 dec. Chris Williams (Millikin) 4-3.
- 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 won by disqualification (5:52) over Antwon Pugh (Mount Union).
- 165: Lucas Jeske (Augsburg) dec. Kyle Hatch (Wabash) 9-7. National championship match: Jeske dec. Dempsey King (Rochester Inst. of Tech.) 6=2.
- 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 dec. Keajion Jennings (Millikin) 8-5.