Johnnies Return to Action Thursday-Friday in Florida

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

The tournament is scheduled for 9 a.m. ET competition Thursday and Friday at the Broward County Convention Center.

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A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Three Saint John’s wrestlers placed at Division II MSU-Moorhead’s Dragon Open last Saturday (Dec. 3).

Junior Ben Gilbertson (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) went 2-2 at 184 pounds to place fifth. His first three matches were against wrestlers from Division II Minot State (N.D.). Gilbertson bounced back from a first-round loss (8-2) with a narrow 10-9 victory in his first consolation bout. He suffered an 11-9 defeat in the semis but ended the day with a 4-3 decision in overtime for fifth place.

Junior Hayden LeMonds (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville) won his first match of the day at 174 pounds via fall, but dropped a close 6-5 decision to Elijah Sterner of Division II Southwest Minnesota State. He left the tournament (medical forfeit) and took sixth.

Freshman Teagyn Ludwig (Richmond, Minn./Eden Valley-Watkins) went 2-2 at 133 pounds to claim fifth place in the White bracket.

BUENA VISTA CANCELED: The Johnnies were scheduled to visit Buena Vista (Iowa) for a dual on Dec. 10, but the event was canceled due to illness (on both teams).

WHO WILL BE IN FLORIDA: The Johnnies are scheduled to be joined by No. 2 Augsburg, Case Western Reserve (Ohio), Castleton (Vt.), Concordia (Wis.), Cornell (Iowa), Dubuque (Iowa), Ferrum (Va.), No. 7 John Carroll (Ohio), NAIA Keiser (Fla.), Division I Liberty (Va.), No. 14 NYU, Ozarks (Ark.), Roanoke (Va.), Schreiner (Texas), NAIA St. Thomas (Fla.), No. 4 Wisconsin-La Crosse and Williams (Mass.).

LAST YEAR: Sophomore Logan Thorsten (Foley, Minn.) finished third and two other Johnnies won the “warrior” brackets at the two-day Citrus Invitational last Dec. 29-30 (2022) in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Wrestlers who suffered two losses on the first day of competition and were eliminated, as well as those that recorded their second loss on the morning of day two, were added to separate “warrior” (single-elimination, consolation) brackets in adjacent to the main tournament.

Thorsten led SJU with a 6-1 record to finish third at 157 pounds. He won his first two matches of the tournament before suffering a close 3-2 defeat to Logan Dubuque of Castleton (Vt.) in the quarterfinal. Thorsten bounced back with an 8-2 win and rattled off three more on the second day, including a 9-7, overtime victory over Dubuque in the third-place bout.

Gilbertson, like Thorsten, won his first two matches at 174 pounds, but dropped a pair of decisions to drift to the “warrior” bracket. He cruised through it, recording two pins and a major decision, before posting a 5-2 win in the first-place match.

The two-day tournament served as the first competitive matches of the season for five of the eight Johnnies, including sophomore D.J. Myles (Dayton, Minn./Champlin Park). Myles won his first collegiate match via fall at 197 pounds, but lost his next two by the same result. He responded with three wins, including two more pins, Thursday to win the “warrior” bracket with a 4-2 record.

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