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Wartburg captures sixth Div. III National Duals title
For the first time in the 12-year history of the Cliff Keen NWCA Division III National Duals, Wartburg College faced a team other than the similar perennial Div. III power Augsburg in the 2013 finals, Jan. 12.
But with a big win by 133-pound Kenneth Anderson, the top-ranked Knights defeated No. 2 Elmhurst, 24-10, to capture the Iowa school’s sixth team championship of the Division III tournament, held in the Prairie Capital Convention Center as part of the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals.
Anderson, ranked No. 1 in the national poll, defeated No. 4 Dalton Bullard, 3-0, to help Wartburg build a 21-3 lead after seven weight classes. The Knights also received team bonus points 149-pound Kodie Silvestri and 157-pound Cole Welter. Silvestri, ranked No. 2, won an 18-2 technical fall over Maxx Lozano, while the fourth-ranked Welter majored Alex Maynard, 12-4.
Wartburg, coached for one final year by Jim Miller, won three duals to advance to its 12th straight championship dual: beating Johns Hopkins, 25-12, Ithaca College, 33-6, and Centenary, 23-12.
Elmhurst also scored three dual wins over Wesleyan, 28-10, Wisconsin-Whitewater, 26-9, and Cortland State, 26-19, to reach the finals.
Against the Knights, they got wins from 141-pound Ryan Earley, 184-pound Joseph Rau and 197-pound Mike Benefiel. Earley, ranked No. 6, upset No. 4 Thomas Mirocha, 8-5, before Rau, ranked No. 1, scored a 19-6 major decision over No. 7 Sam Upah, and Benefiel, ranked No. 6 at 174 pounds, moved up two weights to major Punahele Soriano, 9-0.
Augsburg goes 1-2
The Auggies of Minneapolis not only failed to reach the finals for a first time, but left Springfield without a placement win.
Augsburg, ranked No. 4 before the tournament, opened the Duals with a 24-12 win over Springfield College, but then dropped consecutive matches to fifth-ranked Centenary, 19-15, and unranked Johnson & Wales, 22-20. In that final match against the Rhode Island school, the most notable upset came at 133 pounds where unranked Justin Colon defeated No. 5-ranked Tossaporn Suparat, 4-2.
The Auggies were wrestling without nationally-ranked Will Keeter (No. 6 at 149) and Tom Teigen (No. 6 at 165).
Where is Wesleyan?
One of the more surprising place-winners as a team was Wesleyan University, which came to Springfield unranked and left with a sixth-place trophy … after dropping a first-round loss to Elmhurst.
Once in the consolation bracket, the Cardinals of Middletown, Conn., won three duals over No. 7 Olivet (Mich.), 20-17, No. 9 Ithaca College, 22-17, and Johnson & Wales, 26-11, before losing the fifth-place match to No. 6 Wisconsin-La Crosse, 25-14.
In the win over Olivet, Wesleyan won five matches, highlighted by a 4:29 pin by 125-pound James Hamilton. In beating Ithaca, the Cardinals trailed 17-6 before scoring 16 points in the final three matches: pins by Jefferson Ajayi (184) and Austin Frank (Hwt) and a major decision by Joshua Roometua (197). To reached the consolation final, Wesleyan jumped out to a 16-0 lead, highlighted by a pin by Howard Tobochnik.