February 19, 2006

NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional

Augsburg, unsurprisingly, won the team title this past weekend at the Great Lakes Regional, held at the University of Chicago. Elmhurst placed second. While Augsburg is not as untouchable as they have been in past years, they had plenty of talent on hand to win the regional again. It's been said that they don't have anyone "unbeatable" on their team, and this weekend, showed that probably true, though that does not by a long shot mean they won't have anyone on top of the podium in two weeks. Full results can be found here. The ten champions and 11 wildcards go on to the National Tournament March 3-4 at The College of New Jersey.

125 Pounds - Tom Gagan of Elmhurst was the class of a relatively weak weight class, as evidenced by the class only garnering one national qualifier and missing on all 11 wildcard selections. Flodeen of Augsburg had some convincing wins approaching the finals, but Gagan was able to score with outside fireman's carries and even turned the second seeded Flodeen to win 13-6 and guarantee the freshman's first trip to Nationals.

133 Pounds - Jafari Vanier of Augsburg won several close matches on his way to the title, though he appeared to be in control the whole time. Johnson of North Central is explosive and talented, if a bit mistake prone, winning a close challenge match against Stanton of Augustana and getting a wildcard selection. Stanton defeated Brent Skorup of Wheaton twice on the day, rallying from a 7-3 deficit to win the consolation finals in overtime by a score of 10-8. Skorup recorded three falls on the day and by all rights should have defeated Stanton both times they wrestled, but for making some questionable mistakes.

141 Pounds - Josh Hansen, the top seed from Augsburg, cruised to the title in a weight class featuring returning All-American David Silva of Elmhurst and national qualifier Ryan McMurray of Augustana. Silva, still feeling the effects of a back injury that kept him out from December 19th to February 11th, placed fourth to Koch of Concordia. Koch then defeated McMurray in the challenge match, though each of them will wrestle at Nationals. Cody Nord of Wheaton went 1-2 on the day, the weight disadvantage from spending the season as an average sized 133 obvious.

149 Pounds - Top seed Jared Evans of Augsburg won a 3-2 squeaker over Kenny Thomas of Elmhurst. Evan had ridden Thomas for 1:54 of the third period, hoping to preserve a 2-2 tie and force overtime, but Thomas took a second injury time (the first of which may have been a bogus attempt to catch his breath), perhaps unknowingly giving Evans the choice and six seconds to escape and win, which he did as time expired. Fitzenreider of North Central, ranked as high as 8th this year, placed third, but failed to advance with Evans and Thomas.

157 Pounds - In arguably the toughest weight in the tournament with four ranked wrestlers, neither top seed Ludwig of Elmhurst or 2nd seed Gingerich of North Central made the finals. Malone of St. Johns defeated the third ranked Ludwig 8-3 in a match featuring Ludwig screaming off his back with 22 seconds left, drawing the ire of fans and coaches alike, as the validity of his injury was questioned by all, as the timing likely prevented a fall. The champ Anderson of Augsburg defeated Gingerich 9-2 and defeated Malone in the final. Gingerich shocked by pinning Ludwig midway through the first period in the consolation final in what many dubbed a "junior high move" that is rarely risky, but also rarely effective, trapping Ludwig's elbow after having his shot stopped, sitting through and getting the fall. Gingerich and Malone join Anderson at Nationals.

165 Pounds - Second ranked Ryan Valek rode good positioning to the title, defeating now 4x national qualifier Daly of Augustana 3-1 in a tight final. Fifth seed Mike Bishof of Chicago surprised by wrestling back and taking third. Third seed Ben Youel of North Central disappointed by losing three times on his way to sixth, including two losses to #6 seed Sklena of Elmhurst. Daly qualifies for Nationals for the fourth time, though his three previous trips have yielded a total of one win.

174 Pounds - Top seed Josh Rupprecht of Elmhurst won in an anticlimactic final after #2 seed and #6 ranked Gotreau of Augsburg was caught in a headlock and pinned by eventual sixth place finisher Zastrow of North Central. Gotreau battled back to place third and win the challenge match over Vetsch of Concordia(MN) and nab a wildcard. Rupprecht remains undefeated on the year after not wrestling in last year's regional after losing in a wrestle off to Toby Boltz, who has since transferred to Wheaton and sat out this season thanks to CCIW conference rules. Rupprecht is a dangerous wrestler who scores a lot of falls and back points.

184 Pounds - Sixth ranked Brad Tupa of Augsburg defeated fifth ranked Dan Willaert of St. Johns in the final at 184 by a 6-3 score. Willaert won consecutive 5-2 matches to reach the final, and Tupa posted two tech falls and a decision in a weight class whose quality dropped off precipitously following the top two seeds. Both senior finalists will have their season continue.

197 Pounds - Dustin Doctor of North Central defeated both the first and second seeds on his way to a regional championship. Fiecke of St. Johns was ranked fourth at the time of the match, but Doctor prevailed in the semifinals 6-5 before winning another tight one 3-2 over O'Connor of Augsburg in the final to qualify automatically. Characteristic of Doctor, he showed poor sportsmanship at various times throughout the tournament, but held it together enough to win the weight. Doctor has a good sweep single that is faster than most 197 wrestlers are used to, but it remains to be seen if he will keep his cool if down in a match at Nationals. Fiecke took the wildcard after defeating O'Connor in the challenge match.

285 Pounds - Senior Ward Brady of Elmhurst, who rarely breaks 220 pounds, continued his good season by riding the top seed to a title with a 3-0 win over Neumann of Augsburg, who picked up a wildcard. Brady uses a combination of athleticism and low body fat uncharacteristic of most in this weight, though it will be interesting to see how he stacks up against the likes of Gillis or Allen, both of whom are both big and athletic.

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