Saint John’s wrestling opens its 2023-24 season with the inaugural Haws/Elton 4-Team Rumble at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12, in Sexton Arena.
The Johnnies are scheduled to be joined by Concordia-Moorhead, Minnesota North-Itasca and Division II Sioux Falls (S.D.).
A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Some experienced veterans will join a host of talented newcomers to form the core of an SJU wrestling team looking for even bigger things during the 2023-24 season.
Ben Gilbertson (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice), the team’s lone senior, led the Johnnies in wins a year ago. Juniors Logan Thorsten (Foley, Minn.) and D.J. Myles (Dayton, Minn./Champlin Park) are also no strangers to success at the college level.
But with 19 new faces on the roster, including one transfer, SJU will be looking to get a boost at some of the other weight classes.
Here is a full look at how the 2023-24 team should stack up:
One of seven returning upperclassmen, Gilbertson led the Johnnies in wins for the second-consecutive season in 2022-23. He posted a 16-11 record at 184 pounds, including a team-leading three technical falls and a 7-3 mark against non-Division III competition. Gilbertson placed second in the Warrior bracket with a 5-3 record at the Citrus Invitational and second at the North Country Open.
The 9+ Win Club
The Johnnies return three other wrestlers who recorded nine wins or more last season. Thorsten finished second on the team with 10 wins (10-15 record), primarily at 157 pounds, of which seven were decisions.
Despite getting a late start to the season due to football, Myles posted a 9-6 record with a team-leading five pins at 197 pounds. He won the consolation title with a 4-1 record at Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Don Parker Open last February.
The 2023-24 roster boasts 19 newcomers, including freshman Owen Herbst (Buffalo, Minn.), a transfer from Division II-power St. Cloud State. Herbst was a three-time Class AAA Minnesota State place-winner (third at 160 pounds in 2021, sixth in 2020 and 2022) and four-time state qualifier. Freshman Aidan Wayne (Maple Grove, Minn./Osseo) was a two-time state qualifier who placed fourth at 195 pounds in Class AAA as a senior in 2022. He transferred to SJU after playing football at Wisconsin-River Falls last fall. Another freshman, heavyweight Cody Kwak (Menomonie, Wis.), was a two-time state qualifier in Wisconsin.
The 2023-24 Schedule
Following Sunday’s season opener, the Johnnies hit the road for the rest of fall semester: Nov. 18 at UWEC’s 8-Man Battle, Dec. 3 at Division II MSU-Moorhead’s Dragon Open, Dec. 9 at Buena Vista (Iowa) and Dec. 29-30 at the Citrus Invitational in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Johnnies start the New Year with a home dual against Minnesota North-Itasca (formerly Itasca C.C.) on Jan. 4 before a pair of road invitationals, Jan. 6 at Central (Iowa) and Jan. 13 at Minnesota North-Itasca. The annual North Country Open is Jan. 20 and SJU welcomes Minnesota West C.T.C. for a dual on Jan. 27. The Johnnies compete Feb. 3 at UWEC’s Blugold Open Feb. 3 before the final home competition – a dual vs. Ridgewater – on Feb. 9. The NCAA Upper Midwest Regional is set for March 1-2 in Stevens Point, Wis.