No. 5 SCSU visits North Dakota to close road dual schedule

Huskies Wrestling prepares for No. 14 Mary, (RV) Minot State

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – No. 5 St. Cloud State Wrestling closes out their road schedule of conference duals with a trek to North Dakota this weekend, meeting No. 14 Mary on Friday before taking on (RV) Minot State on Saturday. The Huskies and Marauders will begin at 7:00 p.m. CT at McDowell while Saturday’s road finale at the MSU Dome is set for a 2:00 p.m. CT start.

HUSKIES VS MARAUDERS, ROUND II
St. Cloud State and Mary first met this season at the NWCA National Duals, earning a 26-6 win to advance to the Championship match. No. 6 Paxton Creese opened things up in his match at 125, going to work early with a flurry of takedowns to earn a 14-3 major decision over Chase Milligan. Sam Spencer dropped a 8-3 decision to No. 4 Reece Barnhardt at 133 before Alyeus Craig extended the Huskies’ lead with a 7-4 decision over Lincoln Turman. No. 4 Joey Bianchini provided bonus points at 149 with a 11-2 major decision over Leo Mushinsky. No. 4 Nick Novak drew a tough opponent at 157 with Braydon Huber, who moved back to 157 after being ranked at 165 to close out 2022. Novak toughed out a 5-2 decision, stretching the Huskies’ lead to 14-3. At 165, No. 10 Anthony Herrera won a 6-4 decision over Riley Noble. No. 1 Abner Romero gave the fans a treat in a thrilling rematch with No. 3 Max Bruss at 174. Entering the third period tied 1-1, Romero collected a clutch takedown with just over 30 seconds left and hung on long enough to lock in the riding time for a 5-3 decision. Bryce FitzPatrick lost a 3-2 decision at 184 to Wyatt Lidberg in a match that came down to the final seconds. No. 4 Dominic Murphy drew his third-ranked opponent of the National Duals at 197, meeting No. 12 Matt Kaylor for the second time this season. Murphy got to his offense in the third period, breaking down Kaylor for a 7-2 decision. Elijah Novak wrapped up the Semifinal win with a thrilling SV-1 decision over Luke Tweeton, landing a takedown to earn a 3-1 decision at heavyweight.

SIZING UP THE BEAVERS
Minot State enters the weekend 8-8 with a 3-5 record in NSIC duals, owning wins over MSU-Moorhead, Minnesota State-Mankato and Southwest Minnesota State. The Beavers are headlined by ninth-ranked Jake Swirple at heavyweight while 174-pounder Cannon Potts has gone 12-4 this season. Head coach Evan Forde is in his eighth season leading the Beavers, owning a 25-76 dual record at Minot State. Forde was a standout at MSUM during his collegiate career before graduating in 2011 as a four-time NWCA All-Academic honoree.

QUOTING COSTANZO

“We’re looking forward to our last two duals on the road. We have a really good team that we’re going to face on Friday with Mary – we faced them at the National Duals, I thought we wrestled well against them but there were a lot of close matches. I expect it to be another good dual. They do a great job in terms of promoting wrestling at Mary, and I expect a really rowdy crowd that night as well.”

On facing challenging road environments… “We’re handling the environments well. We need to embrace it. It’s a great environment to wrestle in whether you’re the home team or visiting team – we just need to embrace it, go forward and enjoy it.”

“We had a couple good performances out in Fayette, and there were obviously some performances that we would’ve liked to have back. When you wrestle your opponent so many times throughout the year, it gets tough. We have to work on consistency a little bit better, get a little sharper here towards the finish line and get ready to roll for the regional tournament.”

On Blake Legred’s strong run… “He’s just wrestling really well in the positions he feels comfortable with. On top of that, he’s continuing to gain a lot of confidence and momentum. Confidence and momentum are huge factors in our sport, and Blake is certainly getting a lot of both.”

On the consistency of Dominic Murphy… “Dom just does everything right. Not just on the mat, but off the mat too. He lives the right lifestyle, nutritionally does the right things, gets a lot of rest – wrestling is certainly very important to him. I’m extremely proud of him. He’s healthy and I know he’s hungry. When you’re healthy, hungry and have been wrestling as well as Dom has, good things are going to happen. We’re expecting great things happening for Dom and I’m sure he is as well.”

On the Huskies’ depth showing up… “In terms of the dual meet season, you have to have depth. We’re going to have 16 duals by the end of the year and in some seasons we’ve had as much as 21 duals – with that being said, there’s going to be a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. You’re going through the grind of the season with injuries and so forth, but the main thing is having guys that can compete against one another in our room. That makes each one of our guys better. It definitely helps our culture, it helps our environment. There’s no easy days off in the wrestling room in terms of training. When you have strong depth, there’s going to be guys looking to get into the lineup regardless of who you have. We’ve got good culture, we’ve got some great depth, and now we just have to put the right guys on the mat at the right times at this time of the year.”

“I just want to continue seeing improvements. I think the main thing is just staying consistent. The most important factor is going to be our health – making sure our guys get out of these two duals injury-free and feeling good as we head into the Regional tournament.”

SURVEYING THE RANKS
St. Cloud State enters the weekend ranked No. 5 by the NWCA and No. 3 by The Open Mat in tournament formats, No. 5 by Intermat, and at No. 4 in duals by The Open Mat. 10 Huskies are currently ranked, with seven receiving notice by the NWCA: No. 7 Paxton Creese (125), No. 11 Sam Spencer (133), No. 11 Alyeus Craig (141), No. 8 Joey Bianchini (149), No. 2 Nick Novak (157), No. 1 Abner Romero (174) and No. 10 Dominic Murphy (197). The Open Mat has 10 Huskies recognized: No. 5 Paxton Creese (125), No. 13 Caleb Meekins (133), No. 9 Alyeus Craig (141), No. 5 Joey Bianchini (149), No. 2 Nick Novak (157), No. 13 Anthony Herrera (165), No. 1 Abner Romero (174), No. 17 Shaeden Scheidt (184), No. 5 Dominic Murphy (197) and No. 9 Elijah Novak (HWT). Intermat’s January rankings place No. 7 Paxton Creese (125), No. 11 Sam Spencer (133), No. 8 Joey Bianchini (149), No. 2 Nick Novak (157), No. 1 Abner Romero (174) and No. 10 Dominic Murphy (197).

LAST TIME OUT
No. 5 St. Cloud State Wrestling won seven of 10 matches with a forfeit and a fall to earn a 27-9 win over No. 10 Upper Iowa in Fayette on Thursday evening. The Huskies won four matches decided by two points or less, grinding out a tough win at Dorman Gymnasium. Caleb Meekins made a big statement at 133, dragging down Kaden Anderlik twice early in their bout and controlling on top. The Huskies’ 133-pounder found his way to a cow catcher midway through the second, flattening Anderlik for the fall at 3:27. Blake Legred recorded his seventh straight shutout at 157, blanking Eric Faught 5-0 as he dominated in the controlling position. A two-point tilt in the second helped Legred keep momentum, breaking Faught down then wrestling strong on his feet to close out the decision. A key milestone was reached at 165 as Anthony Herrera earned his 75th collegiate win with a 5-3 decision over Ryan Steffen. St. Cloud State and Upper Iowa have wrestled their final conference dual as the Peacocks depart to the GLVC next season, ending the all-time NSIC series with the Huskies leading 13-2.

STRETCH ROLLING
Blake Legred has stepped up in a critical stretch for St. Cloud State, filling in at 157 pounds and dominating his first three dual bouts while extending his shutout streak to seven. The redshirt junior has now won each of his last 10 matches, outscoring opponents 73-2 in that span with nine shutouts, two tech falls and a major decision.

DANGEROUS DOM
Taking over the reins at 197 from Noah Ryan this season, redshirt junior Dominic Murphy is flourishing with a 19-3 record and a 10-3 mark in duals while leading the Huskies with 60 takedowns and 42 dual points. Murphy has already drawn seven ranked opponents – going 4-3 against them with signature wins against No. 1 Dalton Abney and No. 3 Cole Huss.

SOLVING 133
Both Caleb Meekins and Sam Spencer have seen time as the Huskies’ starter at 133, splitting the starts with six and five, respectively. Meekins is 13-5 this season with a 4-3 dual record and a pin of returning NCAA fourth-place finisher Reece Barnhardt of Mary while Spencer has gone 14-5, 5-1 in duals, and owns a win over defending Super Region V Champion Jack Huffman of Augustana. Both wrestlers have been ranked this season, with Spencer currently the No. 11 133-pounder per the NWCA and Intermat while Meekins slots in at No. 13 per The Open Mat.

MILESTONES TO WATCH
Two Huskies are on the cusp of reaching significant win milestones entering conference duals: Abner Romero is two away from No. 70 while Joey Bianchini just won his 71st match on Thursday, now closing in on the 75-win club.

UNDISPUTED TOP DOG
2021 NCAA DII 174-pound Champion Abner Romero is the unanimous No. 1 wrestler at 174 pounds entering the weekend, beginning his Huskies career 12-0 with four wins over ranked opponents. Romero joined St. Cloud State this season for his final collegiate campaign after three years at Lindenwood.

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.

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