Johnnie Wrestling Begins Season Saturday in Wisconsin

Saint John’s wrestling opens its 2019-20 season at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the Wisconsin-Stevens Point Open. – Live Results on Trackwrestling

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES (Season Preview): There are 22 student-athletes on the 2019-20 Saint John’s University wrestling team.

On one side of the coin rest eight seasoned Johnnie seniors, including Becker, who finished with an impressive 26-4 record last season at 133 pounds and Novak, who posted a 15-8 record at 157 rounds. Both wrestlers took sixth at the 2019 NCAA Upper Midwest Regional and missed the national tournament by one round.

On the other side of the coin? Half of the Johnnies’ roster are freshmen, of which three placed at the Minnesota state high school tournament (six entrants total).

As a team, the Johnnies finished their season with a 1-6 dual meet record. SJU won the Elmhurst (Ill.) Invitational with four wrestlers placing in the top three, two of whom took first.

Becker Continues to Lead
Becker’s 26-4 record included a 23-4 mark in tournaments and a 10-1 showing against non-Division III wrestlers. All four losses were decisions. He won five of the seven regular-season tournaments and took third at the Citrus Invitational. He took a 13-match win streak to the NCAA Regional but suffered an ill-timed injury prior to the tournament for the second consecutive season – a high-ankle sprain in 2019 and turf toe in 2018. Becker begins his senior season with a 70-25 career record.

Healthy Novak
Novak missed the first half of the 2018-19 season due to injury and finished fourth in his first competition, the Elmhurst Invitational in January, en route to a 15-8 record. Like Becker, all eight of his losses were decisions, of which half were decided by three points or less. A nursing major, Novak is expected to miss three weeks in November for a service trip to South Africa.

The Other Elders
Senior Quincy Spiering (Mounds View, Minn./St. Thomas Academy) returns to the lineup after finishing second on the team with nine pins and a 14-13 record a year ago at heavyweight, while classmate Dominic Skawiniak (Rogers, Minn.) went 10-11 at 184 pounds (1-1 at 197). Senior Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.), SJU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) president in 2019-20, studied abroad last fall and tallied a 9-16 record between 141 and 149 pounds. Seniors Dan Gainer (165; St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall), Dan Gehrz (174; Mendota Heights, Minn./St. Thomas Academy) and Anthony Hennen (125; Cologne, Minn./Norwood-Young America), meanwhile, look to end their collegiate careers on a high note.

Busy Competitor
Sophomore Jacob Scherber (Buffalo, Minn.) made quite the debut for SJU as a freshman last season. He led the Johnnies in wins (27-20 record) and pins (12), and wrestled 17 more matches than the next Johnnie on the team (Becker’s 30). Scherber took second in the consolation bracket at the Citrus Invitational after wrestling nine matches in just two days and went 10-5 against non-Division III competition overall.

Smart Wrestlers
Becker, Novak and Luke Dodd ’19 were named National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) Scholar All-Americans, each for the second time, while the Johnnies recorded the seventh-best GPA (3.65) en route to NWCA All-Academic team honors last season. SJU has now totaled 24 Scholar All-Americans over the last 11 seasons.

To be eligible for Scholar All-America distinction, a student-athlete must carry a GPA of at least 3.20 (cumulative or last academic year), have a .500 match record or better and meet one of the three criteria: qualify for the NCAA Championships; place in the top eight at the NCAA regional and wrestle in 50 percent of the scheduled dates; or achieve a .665 winning percentage or better and wrestle in 50 percent of the scheduled dates.

The team grade-point average was determined using a system that includes 14 student-athletes from each program, including all 10 that competed at the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional.

The 2019-20 Schedule
SJU opens its 2019-20 season Nov. 2 at the Wisconsin-Stevens Point Open and then hits the road for duals at Division II Northern State (S.D.) Nov. 7 and Buena Vista (Iowa) Nov. 14. The Johnnies, meanwhile, are scheduled to host duals against Augsburg (Nov. 26), Itasca Community College (Dec. 21) and Wisconsin-Eau Claire (Jan. 23). The annual North Country Open is set for Jan. 24 in SJU’s Sexton Arena and the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional will be held Feb. 28-29 at Augsburg. The 2020 NCAA Division III Championships are March 13-14 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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