Hall of Fame Welcomes 2007-2008 Minnesota State Wrestling Team

The 2007-2008 Minnesota State wrestling team was recently inducted into The Minnesota State Athletics Hall of Fame.

The Mavericks had many outstanding accomplishments that season, including a memorable runner-up finish at the NCAA Division II National Championships. Winning individual national titles that season for Minnesota State was Jason Rhoten and Andy Pickar. Five others achieved All-American status – Nick Smith, John Putman, Travis Elg, Tommy Abbott, and Brady Wilson.

The team had a 20-1-1 dual meet record, establishing a school record for wins in a season.

Minnesota State won the National Duals with wins over Chadron State, Pitt-Johnstown, Nebraska-Kearney, and Nebraska-Omaha. They won the North Central Conference and had five North Central Region champions – Putman, Elg, Rhoten, Pickar, and Wilson.

Several members of the 2007-2008 Minnesota State wrestling team attended the induction ceremony on October 1st in Mankato, including wrestlers Tim Haneberg, Jeff Pfaffinger, Andy Forstner, Tim Matheson, Jason Rhoten, Andy Pickar, Travis Elg, John Putman, Brady Wilson, and Nick Smith. Coaches present were Jim Makovsky, Ty Eustice, Mike Niemczyk, and Andy Schmalzriedt.

Minnesota State 2021 Hall of Fame
Members of the 2007-2008 Minnesota State wrestling team at the 2021 Minnesota State Athletics Hall of Fame. Front Row (L to R): Jeff Pfaffinger, Andy Forstner, Tim Matheson, Jason Rhoten, Andy Pickar, Travis Elg, and Nick Smith. Back Row (L to R): Jim Makovsky, Brady Wilson, Tim Haneberg, John Putman, Mike Niemczyk, Andy Schmalzriedt, and Ty Eustice.

Other athletes also inducted were women’s basketball standouts Heather (Johnson) Anderson (MSU 2005-09) and Joanne (Noreen) Thomason (MSU 2005-09), men’s hockey all-time leading scorer Aaron Fox (1996-2000), 14-time women’s track & field All-American Brittany Henderson (MSU 2006-10) and one of men’s swimming’s most decorated student-athletes Marty Wahle (2005-09).

To help honor the 2007-2008 Mavericks Wrestling Team, we are revisiting a recap from the 2008 DII National Championships:

Mavericks Crown Two National Champions, Claim Second Place Team Honors

March 15th, 2008 – It was a bittersweet night for the Minnesota State wrestling squad. They claimed two national champions at the NCAA Division II National Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but finished second in the final team standings. The Mavericks finished with 108 points, finishing half a point behind Nebraska-Kearney.

Mankato held a nine-point lead over Nebraska-Kearney going into the semifinal round. Things continued to look up for the Mavericks when they advanced three wrestlers to the finals and Nebraska-Kearney advanced two. But the Lopers made up enough ground in the consolations, winning eight of ten matches, where the Mavericks won only two of ten matches in the wrestlebacks.

“It hurts coming that close,” said Minnesota State Coach Jim Makovsky. “We had a million opportunities. But I have to tip my hat to Kearney – they deserved it.”

Claiming the individual championships were seniors Jason Rhoten (Mantorville, Minn.) and Andy Pickar (Brainerd, Minn.), becoming the first Mavericks to win the title since four-time All-American Matt Petsinger in 2001. It is also the first time the Mavericks had had two champions since 1967 when two-time champion Bob Soulek and Bob Wendel won.

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Jason Rhoten gets his hand raised after winning the 157-pound title.

Rhoten met up with two-time and defending national champion Antonio Guerra of Findlay, who won at 157-pounds in 2007 and 149-pounds in 2006. Guerra also became his school’s wins leader at 123 in his semifinals match. He came into the match with a record of 35-9.

The two started off the match trying to feel each other out and finished the first period scoreless. Rhoten chose to start the second period in the down position and worked himself free to score the first point of the match, 13-seconds into the period. Rhoten extended his lead in the period with a takedown at the 4:27 mark. Guerra got on the board with an escape point to start the third period while adding a point when Rhoten was penalized for stalling. Rhoten would hold on to claim the championship, 3-2.

Rhoten ends his career at MSU as the career wins leader with a record of 136-23, as a national champion, and a four-time All-American. He finishes his senior campaign with a record of 40-2, with both losses coming to Division I wrestlers.

Pickar was challenged by first-time All-American Hudson Harrison of Mercyhurst College. He is a four-time national qualifier. The two also wrestled to a scoreless first period before Pickar jumped out in front with an escape point two seconds into the second stanza.

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Andy Pickar puts a half-nelson on Hudson Harrison of Mercyhurst in the 165-pound finals. Pickar defeated Harrison 8-2 for the title.

Harrison escaped at 5:33, but Pickar was quick to add to his lead, adding another takedown two seconds later, which ended scoring in the second period. Having a bit more of a comfortable lead, Pickar tried to add to it to get to a major decision to help the Mavericks’ team score. Pickar secured his riding time before releasing Harrison for the escape, attempting to go for the major decision to help the team with bonus points. Pickar would add a late takedown at the 6:57 mark and get Harrison in nearfall position as time expired, not reaching the full two seconds needed for nearfall points.

In his second attempt in as many years, Pickar ends his season as a national champion and his career as a three-time All-American. Pickar finishes with a career record of 73-17 and a season campaign mark of 27-2.

Senior Nick Smith (Yankton, S.D.) matched up against top-ranked Cody Garcia of Nebraska-Omaha in the first match of the championship round at 125 pounds. Smith fell behind early as Garcia executed a takedown 27-seconds into the first period. Smith worked his way free to cut the lead in half at the 1:19 mark, but Garcia shot in again for another takedown at 2:04.

Garcia would start the second period in the down position and shot out only four seconds into the second period to extend his lead to 6-1, which would stick for the rest of the period. In the third period, Smith would try to cut into the lead by starting in the neutral position, but Garcia got a hold of Smith’s leg to work a takedown.

Smith would work out a final escape, but with riding time, Garcia would hold on to the 8-2 decision. Smith’s season and career came to an end for the Mavericks with a 23-6 season record and a career record of 109-45.

First-time 133-pound All-American junior John Putman (Oak Lawn, Ill.) finished in sixth place with a 9-0 major decision loss to Tim Elliott of Central Oklahoma.

At 141 pounds, Travis Elg (Mountain Lake, Minn.) earned his first All-American honor by placing sixth. He was defeated by James Annon of Fort Hays State 6-4 in the medal match.

Tommy Abbott (Wilmington, Del.) claimed fifth place in his true-freshman season as he pulled a 6-1 decision over Colby Robinson of Central Oklahoma.

Heavyweight Brady Wilson (Faribault, MN) finished his sophomore campaign in fourth place. He suffered two one-point losses during the final day. The first was a 4-3 overtime loss against Dustin Finn of Central Oklahoma and the second was a 4-3 riding-time point loss for third place against Cy Wainwright of Newberry.

At 174 pounds, junior Tim Matheson (Circle Pines, Minn.) was the lone Maverick qualifier not to earn All-American honors. After winning his first match of the tournament, Matheson dropped his next two and was eliminated.

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2008 Division II NCAA Championships runner-up team – Minnesota State University Mankato.

2008 NCAA Division II National Championship
March 14-15, 2008 at Cedar Rapids, IA

Final Team ScoresChamps/All-AmericansPoints
1Nebraska Kearney2/8108.5
3Nebraska Omaha2/693.5
4Pittsburgh Johnstown1/687
5Adams State0/568.5
6Central Oklahoma1/565
7Western State0/564.5
9Chadron State1/231
12St. Cloud State0/327.5
14Upper Iowa0/225.5
17Augustana SD0/118.5
West Liberty State0/218.5
19UW Parkside0/217
Truman State0/116.5
22San Francisco State0/115
24Fort Hays State0/110
25UNC Pembroke0/18.5
28New Mexico Highlands0/15
29Central Missouri0/14.5
Northern State0/14.5
31Belmont Abbey0/01.5
32Carson Newman0/00
Grand Canyon0/00
Mesa State0/00
SIU Edwardsville0/00
Southwest Minnesota State0/00

Coach of the Year: Marc Bauer, Nebraska-Kearney
Wrestler of the Year: Cody Garcia, Nebraska-Omaha

2008 NCAA Division II All-Americans
125 pounds
1st: Garcia (UN-Omaha) dec Smith (MSU-Mankato) 8-2
3rd: Schurkamp (San Fran. St) dec Barksdale (Adams State) 9-8
5th: Webb (Chadron State) dec Mumbulo (Upper Iowa) 11-5
7th: Lopez (Western State) dec Welch (Northern State) 5-0
133 pounds
1st: Allgood (UN-Kearney) dec Perkey (Indianapolis) 5-3
3rd: Dunning (Adams State) fall Reasy (Pitt-Johnstown) 4:01
5th: Elliott (Central Okla) maj dec Putman (MSU-Mankato) 9-0
7th: Young (Newberry) dec DeGreef (UW Parkside) 5-3
141 pounds
1st: Evans (Central Oklahoma) dec Fittery (Shippensburg) 3-2
3rd: Rutledge (UN-Kearney) dec Valko (Pitt-Johnstown) 4-3
5th: Annon (Fort Hays State) dec Elg (MSU-Mankato) 6-4
7th: Surra (West Liberty State) fall Francis (Western State) 4:58
149 pounds
1st: Meneely (UN-Omaha) dec DuPont (Western State) 9-3
3rd: Etherton (UN-Kearney) dec Deaguero (Adams State) 4-2
5th: Abbott (MSU-Mankato) dec Robinson (Central Okla) 6-1
7th: McKendree (Gannon) dec Long (Augustana SD) 8-3
157 pounds
1st: Rhoten (MSU-Mankato) dec Guerra (Findlay) 3-2
3rd: Ellenberger (UN-Kearney) dec Eggers (Upper Iowa) 2-1;TB1
5th: Samples (Western St) maj dec Abdur-Rahman (Ashland) 8-0
7th: Jones (Adams State) maj dec Sundgren (St. Cloud St) 15-2
165 pounds
1st: Pickar (MSU-Mankato) dec Harrison (Mercyhurst) 8-2
3rd: Peterson (Truman State) dec Keane (Pitt-Johnstown) 10-6
5th: Becker (UW Parkside) fall Davis (UNC Pembroke) 6:27
7th: Denson (UN-Omaha) dec McCurdy (UN-Kearney) 3-0
174 pounds
1st: Miles (Pitt-Johnstown) dec Taplin (UN-Omaha) 5-2
3rd: Usman (UN-Kearney) dec Shields (Mercyhurst) 3-2
5th: Ferguson (Ashland) dec Gibbs (West Liberty State) 7-4
7th: Tubbs (MSU-Moorhead) dec Feinsod (NM Highlands) 6-5
184 pounds
1st: Scanlan (Limestone) dec Corcetti (Pitt-Johnstown) 5-2
3rd: Deaguero (Adams State) dec Padgett (St. Cloud State) 4-3
5th: Smith (Findlay) maj dec Jolley (Central Oklahoma) 15-6
7th: Griffin (Newberry) maj dec Hudson (Central Missouri) 11-1
197 pounds
1st: Majerus (Chadron State) dec McMahill (Western State) 8-3
3rd: Marrs (UN-Omaha) dec Copsey (Augustana SD) 4-2
5th: Ohl (Ashland) dec Wilkes (St. Cloud State) 6-4
7th: Anundson (Newberry) dec Ross (UN-Kearney) 6-3
285 pounds
1st: Dlagnev (UN-Kearney) dec Finn (Central Oklahoma) 4-1
3rd: Wainwright (Newberry) dec Wilson (MSU-Mankato) 4-3
5th: Laber (Mary) fall Majocha (Pitt-Johnstown) 2:46
7th: Lewis (UN-Omaha) dec Moss (Limestone) 2-1