2023 Lower Midwest Region Preview

Friday and Saturday, February 24-25, 2023
Millikin University | Host Site | 2022 Results

Teams (19):
Augustana, Buena Vista, Central, Coe, Cornell, Dubuque, Eureka, Fontbonne, Huntingdon, Loras, Luther, Millikin, Nebraska Wesleyan, North Central, University of the Ozarks, Schreiner, Simpson, Wartburg, Westminster

NWCA Ranked Tournament Teams
#1 Wartburg
#5 Loras
#6 North Central
#17 Millikin
#18 Luther
#21 Coe
#23 Dubuque

Top 10 Ranked Individuals | February 16th Ranking (24 total)
125: #2 Blasioli (Millikin), #10 B. Koontz (Dubuque)
133: #1 Precin (North Central), #6 Pins (Wartburg), #9 D. Koontz (Dubuque)
141: #1 Terukina (Wartburg), #9 Kinkaid (Loras), #10 Rosen (North Central)
149: #5 Estrada (North Central), #9 Rumph (Wartburg)
157: #1 Smith (Loras), #3 Hollingsworth (Wartburg), #8 Villar (North Central)
165: #5 Fuller (Wartburg)
174: #2 Mulder (Wartburg), #10 Gnida (Loras)
184: #2 Liegel (Loras), #4 Corn (Luther), #10 Bushey (Wartburg)
197: #3 Endene (Wartburg), #7 Cooley (Schreiner)
285: #5 Reeves (Coe), #7 Quick (Luther), #8 Wriedt (Loras)

Contenders & H.M. (40 total)
125: Hornback (Coe), Levy (Wartburg), Valtierrez (North Central), McChesney (Simpson)
133: Boryla (Augustana), Friddle (Coe), Haney (Millikin), McMillan (Loras), Beck (Central), Haynes (Nebraska Wesleyan)
141: Dado (Ozarks), Baldwin (Central), Carson (Millikin), Parke (Coe), Yarbrough (Dubuque)
149: McCusker (Millikin), Schropp (Loras), Wright (Coe)
157: McDonough (Luther), Smith (Cornell), Callaway (Millikin), York (Ozarks)
165: Allen (Cornell), Cervantes (North Central), Mandler (Luther), Esmoil (Coe), Fiser (Loras)
174: Gerkensmeyer (Nebraska Wesleyan), Richardson (Coe), Langley (Simpson)
184: Westphal (Coe), Geigner (North Central)
197: Voss (Coe), Linahon (Central), Montford (North Central), Thurston (Dubuque)
285: Bates (North Central), Dancy (Wartburg), Kinnison (Simpson), Lewis (Ozarks)

Defending NCAA champion Wartburg is poised to win the team title again, to the surprise of no one, as they bring eight ranked wrestlers to the weekend with two more appearing outside the top ten. Four of their wrestlers will be the top ranked individual in the region, and five are returning All-Americans. Loras, North Central, and Coe will make it a fight. Coe and North Central each have nine wrestlers appearing somewhere in the rankings, while Loras has 8. Each of Wartburg, North Central, and Loras has a #1 ranked individual.

Robbie Precin of North Central is the top-ranked returning NCAA champion at 133, and that weight looks to be extremely tough behind him. There will be at least one wrestler who appears in the rankings but is not seeded at 133. All-American Joe Pins of Wartburg is ranked 6th and has a win over Ohio State transfer Dylan Koontz who has wrestled a very limited schedule since joining Dubuque in January. Alex Friddle won the 2021 NWCA tournament at 125 for Coe while Eron Haynes of Nebraska Wesleyan was a 2019 NCAA All-American at 125 and NWCA 4th place in 2021.

Seven wrestlers appear in the rankings at 157 along with #1 Zeke Smith of Loras. 157 has been a tough weight to figure this year as many of the top guys have beaten each other along the way, except for Smith who is undefeated in limited action. That action, however, includes wins over #2 Shilson (Augsburg, 3rd in 2022) and #3 Hollingsworth (Wartburg, 6th in 2022). Smith won one match at the NCAA tournament last year and aims for a podium spot in 2023. Hollingsworth was injured in a semifinal loss and dropped to sixth. #8 Villar (North Central) finished in 4th place at the NCAA championships at 149.

165 could be an interesting weight. Only Wartburg’s Nathan Fuller, a Minnesota transfer, is ranked in the top ten, but five other wrestlers appear lower in the rankings including Will Esmoil of Coe. Esmoil turned it on last postseason, going from a third place regional finisher who was unseeded at the NCAA tournament to a semifinalist and eventual 4th place finisher. He has losses to Cervantes (North Central) and Mandler (Luther), so we will see if he has more end-of-season magic lined up for 2023.