St. Cloud State shuts out rival Mavericks on Alumni Day
ST. CLOUD, Minn. – For the first time in their storied rivalry that began in 1951, No. 5 St. Cloud State Wrestling shut out (RV) Minnesota State-Mankato with a 40-0 drubbing at Halenbeck Hall on Saturday afternoon. The Huskies won all nine bouts wrestled at the dual with two pins and a major decision, adding a forfeit win at 125 pounds.
The Huskies thoroughly dominated Minnesota State, giving up just three total takedowns while scoring 20 of their own. SCSU added four nearfalls and never gave up back points.
Beginning the dual at 165, Anthony Herrera returned to action with a 7-3 decision over Kole Marko – working the single leg well to rack up three takedowns. No. 1 Abner Romero recorded a 9-0 major decision over Mike Smith at 174, cruising through his match with three takedowns. After escaping late in the third to take a 6-0 lead with ride time locked in Romero checked the clock, promptly shot in and cleared the hips to add two more and earn his major decision.
Bryce FitzPatrick and Nic Leo gave the crowd a treat at 184, trading three reversals in the first period after the latter’s first takedown. Trailing 8-7 through two periods, FitzPatrick optional started and went to work – first getting a single leg and cutting Leo to even things at 9-9, then powering in for another. Bryce got to the cross-face and tilted Leo to the back for four swipes, adding ride time for a 16-9 decision.
True to his form, No. 10 Dominic Murphy opened his bout at 197 against Max Villnow with an aggressive attack on the single leg. Murphy landed one and cut Villnow quickly, sensing a chance for a fall. The redshirt junior bulldozed through Villnow a second time, flattening him with a heavy two then added a four-point nearfall. Murphy tilted him again, this time sticking Villnow for the fall at 2:19.
A highly anticipated heavyweight bout awaited Halenbeck Hall in the fifth match of the day as true freshman Elijah Novak met reigning NCAA Champion and DII Wrestler of the Year, No. 7-ranked Darrell Mason. Novak grappled with Mason through the first three minutes, fending off his opponent’s ties and keeping the action moving around the mat. Mason chose down in the second and earned his escape before the two battled through ties the rest of the period. Elijah had choice in the third and started down, withstanding three huge mat returns by Mason. With the ride time climbing near 50 seconds and only 20 to go in the match, Novak rose to his feet and pulled off an incredible switch, gaining the wrists and turning around to face Mason. Novak snagged the single and turned into a double, driving through Mason and putting him on his back. The first-ever nearfall scored on Mason at the NCAA level gave Novak a 6-1 decision over the national champ, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
No. 7 Paxton Creese earned a forfeit win at 125 after the break as the Mavericks were open, then No. 11 Sam Spencer showed off a strong arsenal of single-leg attacks to earn a 9-5 decision at 133 over Isaiah Mlsna. No. 11 Alyeus Craig gave a vintage effort at 141 against No. 12 Brock Luthens, riding tough for a 6-0 decision.
No. 8 Joey Bianchini earned a 7-2 decision over Caleb Meunier at 149 to extend the Huskies’ lead to 34-0. Closing out the day at 157, No. 2 Nick Novak made quick work of Drake Hayward with a lightning-quick fall just 28 seconds in.
Jan. 21, 2023 | Halenbeck Hall | St. Cloud, Minn.
No. 5 St. Cloud State 40, (RV) Minnesota State-Mankato 0
165: Anthony Herrera (SCSU) dec. Kole Marko (KATO), 7-3
174: No. 1 Abner Romero (SCSU) MD Mike Smith (KATO), 9-0
184: Bryce FitzPatrick (SCSU) dec. Nic Leo (KATO), 16-9
197: No. 10 Dominic Murphy (SCSU) fall Max Villnow (KATO), 2:19
HWT: Elijah Novak (SCSU) dec. No. 7 Darrell Mason (KATO), 7-1
125: No. 7 Paxton Creese (SCSU) by forfeit
133: No. 11 Sam Spencer (SCSU) dec. Isaiah Mlsna (KATO), 9-5
141: No. 11 Alyeus Craig (SCSU) dec. No. 12 Brock Luthens (KATO), 6-0
149: No. 8 Joey Bianchini (SCSU) dec. Caleb Meunier (KATO), 7-2
157: No. 2 Nick Novak (SCSU) fall Drake Hayward (KATO), 0:28
Quotables – St. Cloud State head coach Steve Costanzo
“Overall, I think we performed pretty well today. We came out with some energy. I just like the way we performed in all our matches – I was pleased.”
On the unique preparation for the afternoon’s heavyweight bout… “Kameron Teacher came back from Ohio and he spent the week here – I know he and Elijah worked together quite a bit, Kam was in his ear quite a bit. Of course coach Brady works with Elijah quite often. Today we had another young man in Lawrence Phillips, a MMA World Champion, they worked together a little today as well. For Elijah, it was a heck of an opportunity for him to practice against some of the best in the country and the world.”
On Elijah Novak’s win over Darrell Mason… “He just hung in there. He kept his composure, he didn’t back down from the returning national champ. He didn’t allow the guy to bully him, he stayed in a relatively good position when he was handfighting and he just wore the guy out. Obviously a returning national champ there, he didn’t wrestle first semester and he’s not in as good of shape as some of our guys. Elijah hung in there and gave himself a chance to win. He pounced on that single to a double finish and almost had a fall out of the deal.”
On the two key pins at 157 and 197… “It’s nice. That’s the epitome of wrestling – to go out, dominate your opponent and get the fall. We don’t get a lot of pins. We get a lot of bonus points, but we sure do like to see those pin. A couple of those guys going out there, getting the pin and really racking up the points for us.”
“We had good energy. I had a good vibe from them. We were attacking – I don’t think we gave up many takedowns on the day, we dominated on our feet. We did a good job riding hard, and we got out from the bottom. Overall I was pleased – but we have to keep it up, we have to continue improving, we have a short time to go but we have plenty to work on.”
On seeing so many alumni at the afternoon’s alumni dual… “Those guys have a lot of pride. They’ve done a lot for us, and we really appreciate everything that they do in terms of supporting us whether we’re at a home match or on the road. It makes a whole lot of difference.”
Looking ahead to the road stretch of conference duals… “It’s just consistency. While we’re on the road, we have to do things right in terms of weight management and the rest. I’m really looking forward to it – we’ve had a few home matches and now it’s time to get on the road, give some of the other wrestlers on our team the opportunity to compete. A lot to look forward to.”
Quotables – St. Cloud State freshman heavyweight Elijah Novak
“I just had to get confidence in myself. My coaching – Kameron Teacher and Lawrence Phillips came in this week and worked with me. We just stepped up my game this weekend. I just wanted to take it to him. That’s what try to do, take it to him. Records don’t matter, all that matters is who wins at the end.”
“I could sense with the way he was mat returning me, he knew I wanted to try a pass. Right before I stood up for the last one I said, ‘Alright, I’m going to hit a middle school move I used to do.’ I hit the switch, got out and said why not. I tried to get the single leg, got it and I maybe had a shot to pin him but man I was tired. I was just happy to break him down those last couple seconds.”
The Huskies begin a long five-dual road stretch next weekend with a trip to MSU-Moorhead on Friday and No. 20 Northern State on Saturday.
Minnesota State is back on the road in Aberdeen, S.D., against Northern State on Friday, Jan. 27.
Information regarding single dual and season tickets can be found at scsutickets.com. For all the latest on St. Cloud State Wrestling, stay tuned to SCSUHuskies.com and follow the team on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.