Six Augsburg wrestlers place at USA Wrestling U.S. Open

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Six Augsburg University wrestlers and alumni earned top-six individual finishes at the USA Wrestling/U.S. Marine Corps U.S. Open, held this weekend at the South Point Arena.

Seven Augsburg women’s wrestlers competed in the Senior Women’s Freestyle division, with four earning top-six finishes — Katie Lange (FY, Sherburn, Minn./Martin County West HS) finishing second at 68 kilograms (150 pounds), Marlynne Deede (JR, Springville, Utah/Springville HS) finishing second at 72 kg (158 pounds), Taetum Park (SO, Davenport, Iowa/Davenport North HS) finishing fifth at 57 kg (125 pounds) and Nina Makem (FY, Shakopee, Minn./Shakopee HS) finishing sixth at 62 kg (136 pounds).

Six Augsburg men’s wrestlers competed in the U.S. Open, with Kaden Reetz (SO, Madison, Wis./Madison Memorial HS) finishing third in the 72 kg division in the U20 Greco-Roman tournament. Two Augsburg men’s wrestling alumni — Ryan Epps ’20 and Orlando Ponce ’12 — competed in the Senior Greco-Roman division, with Epps finishing in third place at 82 kg (180 pounds).

The five current Auggies who placed in the top six, along with Epps and Ponce, who competed at 72 kg, qualified for the 2022 USA Wrestling World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, which will be held at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, on May 21-22.

Deede, who earned her third National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships All-America honor with a third-place finish at 155 in the 2022 tournament, went 2-1 to finish second in the 72 kg women’s freestyle class at the U.S. Open. She reached the finals with a pair of first-period pins, over Jessica Kemgne (Beat The Streets New York) in 1:33 and Marilyn Garcia (Florida/Menlo) in 1:00. She dropped the title match in a 10-0 technical fall (5:28) to Skylar Grote (New York Athletic Club), a three-time U.S. Open finalist. It’s Deede’s second straight U.S. Open placing, after finishing fourth last season.

After going 18-1 in her first Augsburg season, Lange finished second at the U.S. Open in the 68 kg class. She reached the final with a 9-4 win over Solin Pearcy (Menlo) and a 2:40 pin of Dalia Garibay (Colorado Mesa) but suffered an injury default loss to Sienna Ramirez (Southern Oregon) in the finals. Lange earned Minnesota’s “Ms. Minnesota Wrestling” award as the top senior high school wrestler in the state in 2021.

Park went 2-2 to finish fifth in the 57 kg class, and Makem, an NCWWC national runner-up at 136 pounds in her first season at Augsburg in 2021-22, finished sixth at 62 kg with a 3-2 record, including a technical fall victory.

Three other Auggie women also competed at the U.S. Open, with Sierra Brown Ton (JR, Allen, Texas/Einstein HS) going 1-2 at 62 kg, Charlotte Kouyoumtjian (FY, Porterville, Calif./Monache HS) going 0-2 at 57 kg and Melissa Jacobs (JR, Belle Plaine, Minn./Belle Plaine HS) going 0-2 at 76 kg.

Competing in the U20 Greco-Roman division, Reetz rebounded from a first-round loss with seven straight wins — five by superior decision (technical fall) and two pins — to finish in third place at 72 kg, clinching a spot in the World Team Trials. He capped his meet with a 10-2 technical fall win (2:34) over Braden Stauffenberg (Izzy Style Wrestling), a 2021 USA Wrestling Cadet World Team member who has signed to wrestle at Division I Michigan State. Reetz, who finished 23-9 in his first full Auggie season in 2021-22, also competed in the U20 Freestyle division at 74 kg (163 pounds), went 2-2 competing for the Minnesota Storm.

Tyler Shilson (JR, Maple Grove, Minn./Centennial HS), a two-time All-American who finished third at 157 pounds at the 2022 NCAA Division III National Championships, competed in the Senior Freestyle division at the U.S. Open, going 4-2 at 74 kg with two technical fall victories. Shilson is 43-5 in his two Auggie seasons and 71-29 in his collegiate career.

Four other Auggies competed at the U.S. Open in the U20 Freestyle division, with each going 1-2 on the weekend — Cade Willis (FY, Kansasville, Wis./Union Grove HS) at 65 kg, Charlie Stuhl (SO, Ellsworth, Wis./Ellsworth HS) at 74 kg, Connor Thorsten (SO, Foley, Minn./Foley HS) at 86 kg (190 pounds) and Parker Venz (FY, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS) at 92 kg (203 pounds).

Epps, a two-time Division III national champion who has made his mark on the senior Greco-Roman scene since graduating from Augsburg in 2020, finished in third place at 82 kg in the Senior Greco-Roman division at the U.S. Open. He claimed wins in his first two matches, including an 8-0 (3:16) technical fall, before dropping an 8-0 technical fall to eventual runner-up Spencer Woods (Army WCAP). Epps advanced to the third-place match with a forfeit win, then edged Tommy Brackett (Tennessee), a 2021 U23 World Team member, 4-3 in the third-place match on Sunday.

Ponce, a three-time Division III national runner-up (2010, 2011, 2012) and four-time national tournament qualifier, competed in the 72 kg Senior Greco-Roman class at the U.S. Open, going 1-2.

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