Johnnies Open 2-Day Citrus Invitational Wednesday in Florida

Saint John’s wrestling travels to Florida for the Citrus Invitational this Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 29-30, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. ET competition Wednesday and 10 a.m. ET Thursday at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

Follow Citrus Invitational Brackets/Results on

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Two Saint John’s wrestlers placed at MSU-Moorhead’s Dragon Open the last time the Johnnies competed on Dec. 5.

Sophomore Ben Gilbertson (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) led SJU with a second-place finish (2-1 record) at 184 pounds. He started the day with a 9-5 decision over Lathan Duda of Division I North Dakota State and advanced to the title match with a medical forfeit. Gilbertson suffered a 12-1 loss to Southwest Minnesota State’s Caden Steffen, who is ranked fourth nationally in Division II and is 8-5 (5-2 vs. Division III wrestlers) so far this season.

A pair of Johnnies fared well at 157 pounds against all-Division II competition. Sophomore Wareke Gillette (St. Peter, Minn.) claimed sixth place with a 1-3 record, and freshman Logan Thorsten (Foley, Minn.) went 2-2.

ITASCA CANCELED: The Johnnies were scheduled to compete against Itasca C.C. and NAIA Hastings (Neb.) on Dec. 12, but the event was canceled due to illness.

WHO WILL BE IN FLORIDA: The Johnnies are scheduled to be joined by No. 4 Augsburg, Castleton (Vt.), Cornell (Iowa), Ferrum (Va.), No. 7 John Carroll (Ohio), Division I Liberty (Va.), Ohio Wesleyan, No. 24 Ozarks (Ark.), Roanoke (Va.), and NAIA St. Thomas (Fla.).

TWO YEARS AGO: Noah Becker ’20 finished third for the second consecutive season to lead the Johnnies at their last Citrus Invitational held Dec. 29-30, 2020. He posted a 3-0 record at 133 pounds on the first day before falling to Charlie Nash of Baldwin Wallace (Ohio), who was ranked as high as sixth nationally at 141, by a 3-1 decision in the semifinal. Becker bounced back with a 7-1 victory, the 75th of his career, and claimed third with a 4-2 win over Levi Englman of Ferrum (Va.), the top-ranked wrestler according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA). Down 2-1, Becker scored a reversal with just under one minute remaining in the match and had over a minute of riding time.

In addition to Becker, five other Johnnies placed in the top 13 of their respective weight class. Wrestlers who suffered two losses on the first day and were eliminated, as well as those that recorded their second loss morning of day two, were added to separate single-elimination consolation brackets adjacent to the main tournament.

Jerod Novak ’20 won his first two matches at 157 pounds but suffered a 3-1 loss in overtime in the quarterfinal. He won one of his next three bouts to take 10th at 157 pounds.

A pair of St. Thomas Academy graduates, Dan Gehrz ’20 and Quincy Spiering ’20, placed 11th. Gehrz tallied a 2-3 record at 184 pounds and Spiering posted three pins (3-3 record) at heavyweight.

Dominic Skawiniak ’20, like Spiering, also recorded three pins (3-2 record) to finish 13th at 197. Jacob Scherber ’21 went 1-2 at 174 pounds Sunday but responded with three pins Monday in the consolation bracket.

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