Zierden’s Hollywood Finish Leads Cobbers At Regionals

STEVENS POINT, Wis. — In a storyline only a Hollywood scriptwriter could create, senior Gabe Zierden finally gets his chance to compete in an NCAA National Meet and becomes a region champion all in the same day.

And to make it even more dramatic, he earns his ticket to nationals by beating his arch nemesis, whom he had never beaten and had kept him out of the national meet last year.

Zierden’s future award-winning, feel-good movie and Concordia’s six other podium finishers helped the Cobbers post a sixth-place finish in the team standings at the Upper Midwest Regional Meet.

It’s the second straight season that Concordia has put seven wrestlers on the podium and recorded a sixth-place team finish at the regional. Before last season, the previous highest finish in the region meet for the Cobbers came in 2017.

Zierden had been the hard-luck story when it came to the regional meet and getting to nationals. His college career started when he qualified for the NCAA National Meet in his freshman year but never got to compete at the highest stage because nationals were canceled due to COVID. The NCAA National Meet was also eliminated in 2021. And then in 2022 and 2023, he finished fourth at regions – one spot shy of the Top 3 finish needed to qualify for nationals.

His two near misses fueled the fire for his redemption story in 2024. Refusing to come up short for a third straight year, Zierden fashioned a 31-3 record and entered the regional in full health.

Zierden cruised through his first two matches in Stevens Point to reach the semifinals and position himself to earn a trip to nationals with a win. The only obstacle – Augsburg’s Parker Venz. Venz entered the regional meet ranked fourth in Division III and second in the region. To make the situation even more dire was the fact that Zierden had never beaten Venz. The two foes had faced each other four times in the past two seasons and Venz had pinned Zierden all four times – including in the third-place match at last year’s regional to get to nationals as well as two weeks ago in the two team’s dual meet.

That was then and Saturday was now. And Zierden responded with the match of his career. He earned an early first-round takedown to make Venz chase the match. Venz responded by taking a lead in the second half of the bout and then Zierden rallied. He got his chance in the third period, got the 3-point takedown and wound up slaying the dragon by a single point at 8-7.

The redemption win booked Zierden his golden ticket to the NCAA National Meet and a spot in the regional championship.

Standing In his way for the regional title was No.3-ranked Ben Kawczynski of Wis.-La Crosse, who was the top-seeded wrestler in the region and was 22-2 on the year. Feeling the weight of the wrestling world taken off his shoulders, Zierden went out and dominated Kawczynski. He earned takedowns in the first two periods, stuck Kawczynski on his back in the second period and earned the region title with a pin at the 4:34 mark.

Zierden will be the Cobbers’ lone representative at the NCAA National Meet on Mar. 15-16 in La Crosse, Wis.

Concordia had six other wrestlers finish in the Top 8 of their weight class. Kie Anderson, Ty Bisek, Kellen Schauer, Elijah Hunt, Nathaniel Kisgen and Ayden Friese all claimed podium finishes over the weekend.

Bisek and Schauer led the pack by posting fifth-place finishes. Bisek was the hard-luck story of this year’s regional meet. He entered the weekend ranked first in the region at 133, but came into regionals less than 100% after suffering a lower-body injury in the regular-season finale against Augsburg.

Bisek dropped his quarterfinal match on Friday and opened with a major decision win on Saturday in his quest for a second straight trip to nationals. He finally ran out of gas in the consolation semifinal with a loss to Tyler Fleetwood of Wis.-Eau Claire. Bisek responded in All-American fashion by claiming a 13-2 major decision win over the wrestler who had beaten him in the quarterfinals.

Bisek finished the year with a 27-4 record and is 87-15 in his Cobber career.

Like Bisek, Schauer lost in the quarterfinals and came back to win three of his next four matches to earn the fifth-place finish at 149 – the highest regional finish of his college career. Schauer ends his Cobber career with 69 wins and a 69-45 overall record.

Anderson and Friese both came away with seventh-place finishes, while Hunt and Kisgen placed eighth in their weight classes.

Anderson went 3-2 at 133 to get onto the podium.

Friese earned the rally award for the Cobbers at the meet. He lost his opening match of the weekend but then came back to win four of his next five to place seventh in the heavyweight division. Friese ends the year with a 16-8 record and caps his time at CC with 57 wins.

Hunt and Kisgen both had their regional meets cut short by injuries in the same round. Hunt lost in the quarterfinals but had a tech fall win in his next match before getting injured in the consolation quarterfinals. Hunt was 2-3 on the weekend and finished the year with a 20-11 record.

Kisgen also had to cut his consolation quarterfinal match short because of an injury. He won his first two matches of the regional, lost in the quarterfinals and won his opening match on the consolation side of the bracket. Kisgen ends the year with a 16-13 record.

NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional Results

UP NEXT: Zierden will head to the NCAA National Meet on Mar. 15-16 at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis.

NCAA Upper Midwest Regional – Place Winners for Concordia
125 — Kie Anderson (3-2) – 7th place
133 — Ty Bisek (4-2) – 5th place
149 — Kellen Schauer (4-2) – 5th place
165 — Elijah Hunt (2-3) – 8th place
184 — Nathaniel Kisgen (2-3) – 8th place
197 — Gabe Zierden (4-0) – 1st place
HWT — Ayden Friese (4-2) – 7th place

NCAA UPPER MIDWEST REGIONAL FINAL TEAM SCORES:

  1. Augsburg – 216.5
  2. UW-La Crosse – 188.5
  3. UW-Eau Claire – 160.5
  4. UW-Whitewater – 157.5
  5. Univ. Of Chicago – 123.5
  6. Concordia College – 94.0
  7. UW-Stevens Point – 83.0
  8. Concordia Wisconsin – 65.5
  9. Wheaton College – 48.5
  10. Aurora University – 42.5
  11. UW-Oshkosh – 42.0
  12. Elmhurst College – 32.0
  13. MSOE – 29.5
  14. St. John`s – 28.0
  15. UW-Platteville – 17.0
  16. Carthage College – 14.5
  17. Linfield University – 11.5
  18. Pacific (Oregon) – 10.5
  19. Lakeland University – 3.0

NCAA DIII Regional Upper Midwest Results for Concordia-Moorhead

125
Kie Anderson (9-5) placed 7th and scored 12.5 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Kie Anderson (Concordia-Moorhead) 9-5 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Kie Anderson (Concordia) 9-5 won by fall over JP Culver (Wisconsin-Oshkosh) 5-13 (Fall 0:55)
Quarterfinal – Jalen Dunson (Whitewater) 23-7 won by tech fall over Kie Anderson (Concordia) (TF-1.5 4:54 (17-2))
Cons. Round 4 – Kie Anderson (Concordia) 9-5 won by fall over Devin Gore (Concordia (WI)) 18-15 (Fall 1:31)
Cons. Round 5 – Jake Hamulak (University of Chicago) 10-6 won by fall over Kie Anderson (Concordia) 9-5 (Fall 5:00)
7th Place Match – Kie Anderson (Concordia) 9-5 won by fall over Zane Ely (Aurora Universtiy) 26-19 (Fall 2:04)

133
Ty Bisek (26-4) placed 5th and scored 15.5 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Ty Bisek (Concordia-Moorhead) 26-4 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Ty Bisek (Concordia) won by tech fall over Tate Stockman (Carthage) 3-17 (TF-1.5 2:43 (15-0))
Quarterfinal – Jackson Rustad (U of Chicago) won in sudden victory – 1 over Ty Bisek (Concordia) 26-4 (SV-1 9-6)
Cons. Round 4 – Ty Bisek (Concordia) 26-4 won by fall over Jake Mora (Elmhurst University) 1-2 (Fall 2:30)
Cons. Round 5 – Ty Bisek (Concordia) 26-4 won by major decision over Zachary Weiler (UW-La Crosse) (MD 13-5)
Cons. Semi – Tyler Fleetwood (UW-Eau Claire) 34-8 won by major decision over Ty Bisek (Concordia) (MD 13-0)
5th Place Match – Ty Bisek (Concordia) 26-4 won by major decision over Jackson Rustad (U of Chicago)(MD 13-2)

141
Gabriel Bellefeuille (7-16) place is unknown and scored 3.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Gabriel Bellefeuille (Concordia-Moorhead) 7-16 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Max Sanderfoot (MSOE) 1-2 won by maj. dec. over Gabriel Bellefeuille (Concordia) (MD 13-4)
Cons. Round 2 – Gabriel Bellefeuille (Concordia-Moorhead) 7-16 received a bye () (Bye)
Cons. Round 3 – Gabriel Bellefeuille (Concordia) 7-16 won by fall over Alec Schmacht (Platteville) 1-2 (Fall 0:21)
Cons. Round 4 – Connor Krueger (St. Johns) 2-3 won by decision over Gabriel Bellefeuille (Concordia) 7-16 (Dec 7-1)

149
Kellen Schauer (14-9) placed 5th and scored 14.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Kellen Schauer (Concordia-Moorhead) 14-9 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Kellen Schauer (Concordia) won by major decision over Austin Abitua (Aurora) 26-16 (MD 9-0)
Quarterfinal – Jalin Conner (Whitewater) 33-14 won by major decision over Kellen Schauer (Concordia) (MD 11-2)
Cons. Round 4 – Kellen Schauer (Concordia) 14-9 won by decision over Zach Kolb (Elmhurst) 1-2 (Dec 4-1)
Cons. Round 5 – Kellen Schauer (Concordia) won by maj. dec. over Riese Thornberry (Stevens Point) (MD 15-3)
Cons. Semi – Charlie Stuhl (Augsburg) 25-4 won by decision over Kellen Schauer (Concordia) 14-9 (Dec 8-3)
5th Place Match – Kellen Schauer (Concordia) 14-9 won by medical forfeit over Ryan Fleck (U of Chicago) (M. For.)

157
Tyler Bents (6-6) place is unknown and scored 0.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Tyler Bents (Concordia-Moorhead) 6-6 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Jermaine Butler (Whitewater) 28-11 won by decision over Tyler Bents (Concordia) 6-6 (Dec 8-2)
Cons. Round 2 – Easton Hull (Stevens Point) 15-17 won in sudden victory – 1 over Tyler Bents (Concordia) (SV-1 9-6)

165
Elijah Hunt (20-10) placed 8th and scored 9.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Elijah Hunt (Concordia-Moorhead) 20-10 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Elijah Hunt (Concordia) 20-10 won by fall over Olajuwon Sobomehin (Pacific) 9-17 (Fall 0:13)
Quarterfinal – Cooper Willis (Augsburg) 32-2 won by decision over Elijah Hunt (Concordia) 20-10 (Dec 4-2)
Cons. Round 4 – Elijah Hunt (Concordia) won by tech fall over Joseph Spizzirri (UW-Oshkosh) (TF-1.5 4:27 (18-2))
Cons. Round 5 – Jeremy Pullen (Concordia (WI)) won by injury default over Elijah Hunt (Concordia) 20-10 (Inj. 0:59)
7th Place Match – Jeff Nugent (Elmhurst) 3-2 won by medical forfeit over Elijah Hunt (Concordia) 20-10 (M. For.)

174
Zach Pribyl (14-10) place is unknown and scored 3.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Zach Pribyl (Concordia-Moorhead) 14-10 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Eddie Simes (UW-La Crosse) 3-2 won by maj. dec. over Zach Pribyl (Concordia) 14-10 (MD 18-4)
Cons. Round 2 – Zach Pribyl (Concordia-Moorhead) 14-10 received a bye () (Bye)
Cons. Round 3 – Zach Pribyl (Concordia) 14-10 won by fall over Ruben Vasquez (Concordia (WI)) 3-14 (Fall 2:56)
Cons. Round 4 – Carson Trotzer (UW-Stevens Point) 21-13 won by fall over Zach Pribyl (Concordia) 14-10 (Fall 5:22)

184
Nathaniel Kisgen (17-12) placed 8th and scored 7.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Nathaniel Kisgen (Concordia) won by tech fall over Gavin Graham (MSOE) (TF-1.5 4:18 (19-1))
Champ. Round 2 – Nathaniel Kisgen (Concordia) 17-12 won by decision over Sean King (Wheaton (IL)) (Dec 11-4)
Quarterfinal – Marcus Orlandoni (UW-La Crosse) 3-1 won by fall over Nathaniel Kisgen (Concordia) 17-12 (Fall 6:18)
Cons. Round 4 – Nathaniel Kisgen (Concordia) won in sudden victory over Ben Gilbertson (St. Johns (MN)) (SV-1 9-6)
Cons. Round 5 – Gavin Kohel (Whitewater) 21-15 won by injury default over Nathaniel Kisgen (Concordia)(Inj. 3:11)
7th Place Match – Michael Loger (UW-Oshkosh) won by medical forfeit over Nathaniel Kisgen (Concordia) (M. For.)

197
Gabriel Zierden (30-2) placed 1st and scored 25.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Gabriel Zierden (Concordia-Moorhead) 30-2 received a bye () (Bye)
Champ. Round 2 – Gabriel Zierden (Concordia) won by maj. dec.over Jordan Lewis (Whitewater) 10-20 (MD 9-1)
Quarterfinal – Gabriel Zierden (Concordia) 30-2 won by fall over Michael Dorazio (U of Chicago) 4-2 (Fall 2:22)
Semifinal – Gabriel Zierden (Concordia) 30-2 won by decision over Parker Venz (Augsburg) 20-6 (Dec 8-7)
1st Place Match – Gabriel Zierden (Concordia) 30-2 won by fall over Ben Kawczynski (UW-La Crosse) 25-3 (Fall 4:34)

285
Ayden Friese (16-8) placed 7th and scored 6.0 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Gunnar Garriques (U of Chicago) 32-8 won by maj. dec.over Ayden Friese (Concordia) (MD 12-2)
Cons. Round 1 – Ayden Friese (Concordia-Moorhead) 16-8 received a bye () (Bye)
Cons. Round 2 – Ayden Friese (Concordia) 16-8 won by decision over Colin Jackson (Wheaton (IL)) 0-9 (Dec 2-0)
Cons. Round 3 – Ayden Friese (Concordia) 16-8 won by decision over Noah Nieberle (MSOE) 0-2 (Dec 11-4)
Cons. Round 4 – Ayden Friese (Concordia) 16-8 won by decision over Cody kwak (St. Johns (MN)) 1-2 (Dec 4-2)
Cons. Round 5 – Cadin Koeppel (Whitewater) 17-21 won by decision over Ayden Friese (Concordia) 16-8 (Dec 7-2)
7th Place Match – Ayden Friese (Concordia) won by decision over Blake Flach (UW-Stevens Point) 14-15 (Dec 5-3)

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