The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
St. Cloud State repeated; held off Div. II newcomer Notre Dame College
South Cloud State has been working its way up the NCAA Division II ladder the last few years. Huskie heavyweight Jake Kahnke wasn’t about to let another upstart get in St. Cloud’s way to capturing a second straight Cliff Keen NWCA National Duals championship last Sunday in Springfield, Ill.
Kahnke, ranked second nationally, clinched St. Cloud’s 17-15 victory over Notre Dame College when the senior heavyweight scored a 3-0 victory over fifth-ranked Orlando Scales in the final match of the tournament.
St. Cloud State opened its dual with Notre Dame — the school from Solon, Ohio, which is in its first year in Div. II after winning a pair of NAIA championships — with three wins in the first four weights. This included a 2-1 victory by Eric Forde over Notre Dame’s Johnny Papesh at 125 pounds and a 14-3 major decision by second-ranked Andrew Pokorny over Marty Carlson.
Eighth-ranked Jeffrey Pelton (157) and top-ranked Joey Davis then helped Notre Dame win four of five weights, including a 7-2 victory by Brandonn Johnson over Chris Brassell at 197 pounds to give Notre Dame a 15-14 lead with one match to go.
St. Cloud opened with a 40-7 victory over UNC-Pembroke as Eric Forde (125), Josh Howk (149), Gabe Fogarty (165), Shamus O’Grady (184) and Jake Kahnke (Hwt) scored falls.
In the quarterfinal, second-ranked Andrew Pokorny (who sat out the first-round dual) upset top-ranked Trevor Franklin, 8-5, at 133 pounds to help St. Cloud defeat Upper Iowa, 29-12. One of the more shocking scores in this dual came at 157 pounds where unranked Clint Poster of St. Cloud State scored a 19-2 technical fall over second-ranked Bryce Lumzy to give his team a 14-3 lead after five weights. O’Grady, ranked second, extended his team’s lead to 25-6 with an 18-0 technical fall over sixth-ranked Mitch Shultz.
In the semifinals, St. Cloud faced Wisconsin-Parkside, which entered the tournament unranked but knocked off both top-ranked Nebraska-Kearney and No. 8 Findlay in its first two duals. But against St. Cloud, Parkside lost its first eight match-ups against the Huskies, including a 17-1 technical fall by Poster over Kory Jauch, who was subbing for top-ranked Dillon Bera at 157 pounds.
Notre Dame meanwhile opened its tournament with a 34-3 victory over Augustana — as Marty Carlson (133) and Eric Burgey (174) scored pins — before defeating second-ranked Newberry, 21-15, as Joey Davis (165) and Scales (Hwt) scored falls.
In the semifinals, Notre Dame defeated Central Oklahoma, 19-13, when Scales edged eighth-ranked Cody Dauphin, 4-2, in a double tiebreaker at heavyweight.
Tough tournament for top two teams
Top-ranked Nebraska-Kearney and No. 2 Newberry had a tough two days in Springfield.
The Lopers won just one of three duals, and lost a first-round dual with unranked Wisconsin-Parkside, 18-13. Newberry, meanwhile, had to settle for fifth place after they were knocked off by Notre Dame College, 21-15, in the quarterfinals.
Kearney, which was competing without sixth-ranked Daniel DeShazer at 133 pounds, lost that weight class and trailed 6-0, before the Lopers came back to win four of five bouts. This streak included a 13-5 major decision by Rafeon Stots at 149 pounds to give them a 13-9 lead with three matches remaining. But Parkside won all three of those matches, two by a pair of nationally-ranked wrestlers in 7th-ranked Matt Gille (184) and fourth-ranked heavyweight James Malachek, whose 4-0 decision over Nick Bauman clinched the upset by Parkside. But the biggest win for the Wisconsin team came at 197 pounds where unranked Davion Willis upset seventh-ranked Matt Lenagh.
Kearney came back to beat Minnesota State-Mankato, 20-15, in a consolation dual before being eliminated by Newberry, 20-11.
Newberry’s Jeff Vesta (5th at 125) scored an 8-0 major over Zac Gentzler and second-ranked B.J Young edged Andrew Riedy, 8-7, to help the Wolves build a 10-0 lead after three weights. The South Carolina school built that lead to 17-6 after third-ranked Travis Sheehy defeated Brock Smith, 5-3, at 174 pounds.
Kearney won the next two matches to pull within 17-11, but Newberry’s Robert Wade clinched the team victory with an 8-4 triumph over Bauman at heavyweight. Kearney was also hurt when the team was penalized one point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Newberry then blanked Kutztown, 45-0, to advance to the fifth-place dual where the Wolves defeated Upper Iowa, 24-12. In that dual, Vesta opened the match with a 6:26 pin against Tanner Schmidt to help Newberry build an 18-0 lead. Oddly, two of Newberry’s ranked wrestlers, Sheely and 165-pound Blake Ridenour lost to help UIU to pull with 18-9. That included a 1:44 pin by fifth-ranked Wade Gobin over Ridenour, who was ranked No. 2.
Newberry then clinched the dual by winning two of the final three bouts.