Saint John’s wrestling travels to Augsburg for the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-29, at Si Melby Hall in Minneapolis.
THE SCHEDULE: Competition begins at 11 a.m. Friday and go through the championship quarterfinals and consolation quarterfinals. The regional resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday and will award first-sixth at each weight class.
2020 NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional Web Page
HOW TO GET TO NATIONALS: The top three finishers in each of the regional’s 10 weight classes advance to the 2020 NCAA Division III Championships, which will be held March 13-14 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s ended its 2019-20 dual schedule with a powerful 45-6 win at St. Olaf two weeks ago (Feb. 13) in Northfield. The Johnnies (2-5 dual record) totaled seven pins in the victory. Both teams forfeited the bout at 125 pounds and the Oles were awarded six points when SJU forfeited the match at 149. The dual was likely the last for St. Olaf, which announced in October that it is discontinuing the sport at the end of the 2019-20 academic year.
Senior Noah Becker (Browerville, Minn.) opened the dual with a second-period pin (3:30), his 15th consecutive win, at 133 pounds. He is ranked as high as No. 3 nationally (D3wrestle.com) and is now 19-1 this season.
Senior Anthony Hennen (Cologne, Minn./Norwood-Young America) followed with a pin of his own at 141 pounds and senior Jerod Novak (Aitkin, Minn.) collected nearly four minutes of riding time in a 9-3 victory at 157 to improve to 11-5 on the year.
The Johnnies ended the dual with five straight pins: freshman Logan Edwards (Prior Lake, Minn.) at 165 pounds (1:49), senior Dan Gainer (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) at 174 (1:30), sophomore Jacob Scherber (Buffalo, Minn.) at 184 (4:25), senior Dominic Skawiniak (Rogers, Minn.) at 197 (1:21) and senior Quincy Spiering (Mounds View, Minn./St. Thomas Academy) at heavyweight (0:52).
NEW RANKINGS: Becker stayed at No. 5 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings released Feb 24. He will be joined by three others ranked in the top seven at 133 pounds in this weekend’s regional: No. 2 Victor Gliva (Augsburg), No. 6 Jacob Prunty (Concordia-Moorhead) and No. 7 Matt Berlin (Wisconsin-Stevens Point).
WHO’S COMPETING: The Johnnies are scheduled to have a wrestler in nine of the 10 weight classes.
WHO WILL BE THERE: In addition to SJU and the third-ranked Auggies, other schools competing at the 17-team NCAA Upper Midwest Regional include Chicago, Concordia-Moorhead, Concordia (Wis.), Elmhurst (Ill.), Lakeland (Wis.), the Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.), Pacific (Ore.), St. Olaf, Wheaton (Ill.), No. 24 Wisconsin-Eau Claire, No. 13 Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin-Oshkosh, No. 22 Wisconsin-Platteville, Wisconsin-Stevens Point and No. 15 Wisconsin-Whitewater.
LAST YEAR’S REGIONAL: SJU finished 12th out of 15 teams at last year’s NCAA Upper Midwest Regional held on Feb. 22-23 (2019) in Eau Claire, Wis.
Luke Dodd ’19 earned his second trip to the NCAA Division III Championships with a third-place finish at 197 pounds. He improved to 16-6 on the year and made it to nationals as a sophomore at 184 pounds in 2017.
Down 3-2 in the third period, Dodd lost his semifinal match via fall in 5:41 to top-seeded Lance Benick of Augsburg, who was ranked as high as No. 3 by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA). He bounced back with a 9-1 major decision over Cullen Bauer-Trottier of Wisconsin-La Crosse and punched his ticket to nationals with a 6-0 shutout, which included 2:57 of riding time, of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Beau Yineman in the third-place match.
Becker went 0-2 Saturday to finish sixth at 133 pounds and end the season with a 26-4 record. He fell to Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Ben Vosters, who was ranked as high as No. 7 by the NWCA 10-5 in his semifinal match. Becker, who was battling an ankle injury, suffered a 12-10 loss to Ethan Harsted of Wheaton (Ill.) in the consolation semis and exited the tournament via medical forfeit. Down 10-9 and on top, Becker surrendered a reversal to Harsted with 17 seconds left.
Novak reached the consolation semifinal at 157 pounds following a pin of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Scott Schieldt in his first match, but lost a narrow 5-4 decision to Chicago’s Steven Bonsall. Novak went ahead 4-2 on a reversal with 1:03 remaining in the match, but Bonsall escaped and scored a takedown with 12 seconds left. He finished sixth with a 4-3 loss, the deciding point due to riding time, to Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s Luke Smiley and ended the season with a 15-8 record.