Dodd Begins NCAA Wrestling Championships Friday in Virginia

Saint John’s University senior Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) opens the 2019 Division III Wrestling Championships at 11 a.m. ET Friday, March 8, at the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Va.

THE SCHEDULE: The 2019 Division III Wrestling Championships begin with Session I (first two preliminary rounds and first consolation) at 11 a.m. ET Friday. Competition resumes Friday with the second session, which consists of the quarterfinals and the consolation second and third rounds, at 6 p.m. ET. Saturday’s matches start at 10 a.m. ET.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s finished 12th out of 15 teams at the 2019 NCAA Upper Midwest Regional Feb. 22-23, in Eau Claire, Wis. Senior Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) earned his second trip to the NCAA Division III Championships with a third-place finish at 197 pounds. The top three finishers in each of the regional’s 10 weight classes advanced to nationals.

Down 3-2 in the third period, Dodd lost his semifinal match via fall in 5:41 to top-seeded Lance Benick of Augsburg, who is ranked as high as No. 3 by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA). He bounced back with a 9-1 major decision over Cullen Bauer-Trottier of Wisconsin-La Crosse and punched his ticket to nationals with a 6-0 shutout, which included 2:57 of riding time, of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Beau Yineman in the third-place match. Dodd is 16-6 this season.

Junior Noah Becker (Browerville, Minn.) went 0-2 Saturday to finish sixth at 133 pounds and end the season with a 26-4 record. He fell to Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Ben Vosters, who is ranked as high as No. 7 by the NWCA 10-5 in his semifinal match. Becker, who was battling an ankle injury, suffered a 12-10 loss to Ethan Harsted of Wheaton (Ill.) in the consolation semis and exited the tournament via medical forfeit. Down 10-9 and on top, Becker surrendered a reversal to Harsted with 17 seconds left.

Junior Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) reached the consolation semifinal at 157 pounds following a pin of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Scott Schieldt in his first match, but lost a narrow 5-4 decision to Chicago’s Steven Bonsall. Novak went ahead 4-2 on a reversal with 1:03 remaining in the match, but Bonsall escaped and scored a takedown with 12 seconds left. He finished sixth with a 4-3 loss, the deciding point due to riding time, to Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Luke Smiley and ended the season with a 15-8 record.

197-POUND HISTORY: Seven Johnnies, including Dodd, have made a total of 13 appearances at 197 pounds since the weight classes changed prior to the 1998-99 season. Former head coach Brandon Novak ’01 took third in 2000 and won the national title in 2001. Dan Fiecke ’06 was a four-time entrant at 197 from 2003-06 and Dustin Baxter ’12 was the last to Johnnie place in 2012 (national runner-up).

THE OPPONENTS: Dodd faces the fourth seed, senior Keajion Jennings of Millikin (Ill.), in his first match of the tournament (match #88). Jennings is ranked as high as No. 3 nationally by and is 26-3 this season with 11 pins. He earned All-America honors with a seventh-place finish last season at 184 pounds and defeated Benick by a score of 5-4 back on Dec. 15.

A win advances Dodd to a quarterfinal match (match #194) against the winner between Michael Curtis (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Mass.) and the fifth seed, No. 9 Antonio McCloud of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio). A loss would send Dodd to a Friday-morning wrestleback (match #118) against the loser of one of the two pig-tail bouts (match #18), No. 8 Zeckary Lehman (Baldwin Wallace, Ohio) and the second seed, No. 2 Guy Patron of Loras (Iowa).

THE BRACKET: The 197-pound weight class includes three returning All-Americans, including the top two seeds. No. 1 Eiini Udott of Centenary (N.J.) is a four-time national and placed fifth last year. Patron finished third as a freshman and runner-up last season as a sophomore. Udott is undefeated against Division III competition. Patron, meanwhile, has wins over the fourth (Jennings) and seventh (No. 6/7 Taylor Mehmen of Coe, Iowa) seeds but losses to the third (Benick) and eighth (No. 8 Riley Kauzlaric of Wisconsin-Whitewater) seeds. Ken Burrs (Waynesburg, Pa.), No. 6 seed Michael DiNardo (Johnson & Wales, R.I) and Jonathan Wagner (Coast Guard) all return to the weight after qualifying last year. Lehman and No. 10 Tyler Hammack (Heidelberg, Ohio) join Jennings in making it at 197 pounds a year after qualifying at 184.

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