Johnnies Host Itasca Thursday Afternoon, Travels Saturday to Iowa

Saint John’s wrestling starts 2024 with two competitions this week, beginning with a 2 p.m. home dual vs. Minnesota North-Itasca on Thursday, Jan. 4, in Sexton Arena. The Johnnies travel to compete at Central’s Under Armour Invitational at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, in Pella, Iowa.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Four Saint John’s wrestlers finished in the top eight, and another placed second in the Warrior bracket last weekend at the two-day (Dec. 29-30) Citrus Invitational in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Wrestlers who suffered two losses Friday and were eliminated were added to separate “Warrior” (single-elimination, consolation) brackets in adjacent to the main tournament.

Senior Ben Gilbertson (Sauk Rapids, Minn./Sauk Rapids-Rice) led the Johnnies with a sixth-place finish at 184 pounds thanks to a 3-3 record. Two of his three losses were by two points or less (2-1 and 2-0). He finished second in the Warrior bracket with a 5-3 record at last year’s tournament.

Junior Logan Thorsten (Foley, Minn.) followed in seventh with a 4-2 record at 165 pounds. He started the tournament with a pair of major decisions (10-1 and 8-0) but suffered a loss via fall in the quarterfinal. His final three matches were all close, including an overtime win in his first consolation and an 8-7 victory in the seventh-place bout, and is now 10-4 this season.

Sophomore Zachariah Hunter (Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater Area) and freshman Aidan Wayne (Maple Grove, Minn./Osseo) finished eighth and ninth, respectively, at 197 pounds. Hunter tallied a 3-3 record, including a 13-6 win over Wayne, who posted a 3-2 mark with a medical forfeit and a no-contest in the ninth-place match to even his season record at 7-7.

Freshman Kris Castro (Simi Valley, Calif./Chaminade) second in the Warrior bracket with a team-best five wins (5-3 record) at 157 pounds. He won his first two matches Friday via technical fall and pin, but dropped the next two to join the Warrior bracket. He rattled off three bonus-point victories Saturday – a technical fall, pin and major decision – and dropped a 4-1 decision in the championship bout to move his record to 12-6 this season.

-Thursday, Jan. 4: Live Results | Live Video
-Saturday, Jan. 6: Live Results

SJU’S PROBABLE LINEUP: The Johnnies are scheduled to send the following lineup to the mat on Thursday afternoon:

-125: Freshman Erick Solano (3-5)
-133: Freshman Xavier Jones (3-6)
-141: Freshman Connor Krueger (10-6)
-149: Open
-157: Freshman Kris Castro (12-6)
-165: Junior Logan Thorsten (10-4)
-174: Freshman Owen Herbst (5-1)
-184: Senior Ben Gilbertson (4-6)
-197: Freshman Aidan Wayne (7-7)
-285: Freshman Cody Kwak (8-7)

A YEAR AGO: SJU recorded four bonus-point wins but forfeited two weights in a 27-20 loss at Itasca last Jan. 27 (2023). The Johnnies started the dual with pins from Gilbertson and Hunter at 184 and 197 pounds, respectively.

Teagyn Ludwig tallied a 14-4 major decision at 125 pounds, and classmate Andrew LeMire gave the Johnnies a 20-12 lead with a major decision of his own, 13-5, at 141.

The Vikings took advantage of SJU’s forfeit at 149 pounds and ended the dual with three straight decisions.

Gilbertson, Hunter, Thorsten, and junior Thomas Allen (Colorado Springs, Colo./St. Mary’s) all won exhibition matches after the dual.

IOWA ON SATURDAY: The Johnnies and the host Dutch are scheduled to be joined by Albion (Mich.), NAIA Benedictine (Kan.), NAIA Morningside (Iowa), Nebraska Wesleyan, Simpson (Iowa) and No. 2 Wartburg (Iowa), among others.

TWO YEARS AGO: SJU did not compete at last year’s Under Armour Invitational, but three Johnnies finished sixth at the 2022 tournament. All three wrestlers won their first match of the day, fell in the quarterfinal, bounced back with a victory in the first consolation bout, and lost the fifth-place match.

Gilbertson wrestled to decisions in all four matches to take sixth at 174 pounds. Hayden LeMonds made his first appearance since Nov. 20 and posted a technical fall and a pin against NAIA opponents at 165 pounds, while Thorsten improved to 15-8 on the year at 157. Both of Thorsten’s losses were decisions (4-0 and 7-4).

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