Date – Saturday and Sunday, February 23-24, 2018
Location – Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN
Teams (17) – Augsburg, Chicago, Concordia-Moorhead, Concordia Wisconsin, Elmhurst, Lakeland, MSOE, Pacific, St. John’s, St. Olaf, Wheaton, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Platteville, Stevens Point, Whitewater
Top Ten Ranked Individuals (2017 All-Americans in bold)
125 – Carlos Fuentez (Wheaton, 4), Mike Tortorice (Whitewater, 8), Zach Villareal (La Crosse, 9), Victor Gliva (Augsburg, 10)
133 – Sam Bennyhoff (Augsburg, 4), Anthony Munoz (Elmhurst, 5), Hazen Rice (Whitewater, 8), Scott Arneson (Platteville, 9)
141 – David Flynn (Augsburg, 2)
149 – Alex Wilson (Augsburg, 5)
157 – Ryan Epps (Augsburg, 1), Mark Choinski (Oshkosh, 3)
165 – Lucas Jeske (Augsburg, 1), Keone Derain (Elmhurst, 6), Frank Aiello (Wheaton, 7), Mitch Hertel (La Crosse, 8)
174 – Jon Goetz (Platteville, 8)
184 – Grant Wedepohl (Platteville, 4), Sean O’Neil (La Crosse, 5), Luke Dodd (St. John’s, 7), Dan Squires (Stevens Point, 9), Nick Stencel (Whitewater, 10)
197 – Jordan Newman (Whitewater, 1), Wesley Schultz (La Crosse, 3)
285 – Austin Bellile (MSOE, 10)
Top 30 Teams (d3wrestle.com list)
7. La Crosse
Augsburg has a tough team that broke Wartburg’s stranglehold on the National Duals back in January, though the Knights managed to top the Auggies in the annual Battle of the Burgs later on. Three returning All-Americans and six wrestlers in the top ten give Augsburg a great shot to again win the regional and then compete for another NCAA team title. Lucas Jeske finished 3rd last year and will be a top contender at 165. David Flynn is ranked 2nd at 141 after finishing 3rd a year ago at the same weight. Ryan Epps has the top spot at 157 after missing the podium by one point last year at 149. Victor Gliva is the third returning All-American for Augsburg hoping to improve on last year’s 8th place finish. In the mix and just outside the rankings at 197 is Lance Benick, a midseason addition who was a FILA Cadet world medalist in high school and spent some time at Arizona State.
The rankings above may not reflect the reality of the entries, especially in the case of Whitewater. Bonomo, Stencel, and Newman are all entered at a weight class lower than where they have wrestled all year. None of the three have wrestled a single match at their respective entered weights of 165, 174, and 184. Jordan Newman was the NCAA champion at 184 lbs. last season but wrestled all year at 197 where he was the top ranked wrestler all year. He steps into a weight class with four other ranked individuals, though Nick Stencel’s road may have gotten easier with the move down to 174.
La Crosse has four ranked wrestlers and appears somewhere in the d3wrestle.com rankings at nine of the ten weights. They have a balanced lineup with some to level firepower. Wesley Schultz proved he can win any match when he pinned a pair of All-Americans (including Newman) at the Wheaton Invitational. Schultz, Zach Villareal, Mitch Hertel, and Sean O’Neil are all looking for their first trip to the NCAA Championships. Platteville, Elmhurst, and Wheaton should have some wrestlers in the mix as well. Platteville has three ranked entries as well as the top ranked wrestler at both 174 and 184. Elmhurst has two highly ranked wrestlers in Munoz and Derain as well as Jimmy McAuliffe who just knocked off 2x All-American Chris Williams in the CCIW Championships. Carlos Fuentez leads Wheaton’s contingent and is looking for his first podium finish after qualifying in 2015 and 2017.