Great Lakes Preview 2012


Great Lakes Region Championships – 32 qualifiers

Saturday, February 25, 2012 at Augsburg
Returning Qualifiers/AA: Nathan Fitzenreider (North Central, 3rd @133, 125), Chad Henle (St.Johns, 7th, 133), Daron Hohbein (Conc-Moorhead, 133), Ryan Timmerman (St. Olafs, 3rd, 141), Andrew Zobac (North Central, 141), Jacob Narverson (MSOE, 141), Tony Valek (Augsburg, 2nd, 149), Eric Oyster (North Central, 149), Orlando Ponce (Augsburg, 2nd, 157), Matthew Pfarr (St.Johns, 7th, 174), Josef Rau (Elmhurst, 7th, 184), Dustin Baxter (St.Johns, 3rd@184, 197), Nathan Schmitz (Conc-Moorhead, 197), Tom Bouressa (Conc-Moorhead, 4th, 285), Chad Johnson (Augsburg, 7th, 285)

Augsburg has been a dominant force in the Great Lakes Region and the nation for years, however, several programs have closed the gap in St.Johns, Concordia-Moorehead, North Central, and Elmhurst College. Furthermore with 32 qualifiers and two at large bids, a lot of individuals will have the chance to earn their trip to Lacrosse, Wisconsin and the NCAA Championships.

125 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Fitzenreider (North Central, #1), Fuenffinger (Augsburg, Contender)
Fitzenreider made a bold move when he dropped down to 125 midseason in hopes of not only repeating as an All American but winning the national title. He is the odds on favorite, but he has been out of the lineup since the Wheaton Invitational in late January. Fuenffinger should almost certainly take one of the automatic bids, but the third spot will be up for grabs. Look for Johnson (Elmhurst) to lead the pack of contenders for the third spot.

133 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Hohbein (Conc-Moorhead, #5), Henle (St.Johns, Contender), Kuehn (Augsburg, Contender)/Suparat (Augsburg, Contender), Bullard (Elmhurst, Contender), Poffenberger (Augustana, Contender)
This weight could be extremely interesting and the top guys could easily shift spots anywhere in the top six. Hohbein has been the top performer this season and Henle is a returning All American. It’s unclear who Augsburg will enter, but either of their possibilities is a threat. Bullard has looked very tough when healthy as well and has a recent win over Poffenberger. Anyone of the five could win the conference or earn one of the three automatic bids to the nationals.

141 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Timmerman (St.Olafs, #4), Zobac (North Central, #5), Keeter (Augsburg, #7), Sanders (Conc-WI, HM), Denhof (Elmhurst, HM)
The 141 lb weight is both very strong and fairly deep. Keeter dropped in the national rankings with a recent dual loss to Kust of Stevens Point, but he still should be the #1 seed in this weight. He has a win over Timmerman. Timmerman went on a phenomenal run through last year’s National Championships earning a third place finish. Zobac is solid as well and has put together another strong campaign. After the big three, the talent and experience falls off a bit, but Greg Sanders has exhibited a lot of athleticism and could be a dark horse and Narverson (MSOE) has Nationals experience on his resume.

149 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Valek (Augsburg, #1), Quiros (Augustana, #10), Early (Elmhurst, HM), Oyster (North Central, HM)
It’s Valek and everyone else at this weight as the two time National Runner-up should not be tested at the regional. Quiros has wrestled extremely well in the second semester, making his name known with a runner-up finish at the Wheaton Invitational. He is dynamic from neutral, but he’s not a lock to make the finals. Oyster is a returning national qualifier; he’s struggled at times, but has some very big wins and looks to go on another post season tear. Early is also a highly touted wrestler, and Mark Savenok from Wheaton may be as talented as any if he is in fact healthy.

157 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Ponce (Augsburg, #1), Bodi (NC, HM)
Ponce highlights another weight that is very, very top heavy. He is another two time National Runner-up and the overwhelming favorite in the region. Unlike 149 there isn’t as much depth to chase the next two spots to the bid dance. Bodi has been hot and cold but can beat good wrestlers and Layton (Chicago) is talented enough but has not wrestled much and has spent a lot of time wrestling 165. St. John’s could enter any number of wrestlers into the conversation as Arne, Stevermer, and Seppelt have all spent time as their starter and all have good records. Others that could be in the mix include Grice (Elmhurst) and Fynboh (Conc-Moorhead)

165 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Renon (Lakeland, Contender), Schuler (St.Johns, Contender)
As the only weight that does not feature a top 10 wrestler, this may be the most wide open battle. Renon and Schuler have both produced big wins and lulls in performance and there’s no telling who the favorite is between them. It’s equally unclear who the favorite might be to claim the third automatic bid. Lewis (Elmhurst) has a win over former All-American Myers (Olivet)*Midwest region, but followed it up with a loss to Burns (Augustana) who has also beaten Myers. Burns, at 23-15, has been up and down throughout the year.

174 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Pfarr (St.Johns, #7), Baldares (Elmhurst, Contender), Kohler (Augsburg, HM)
Pfarr returns as an All American and has had a good second semester after making his way down to the weight class. He has beaten everyone else in the region and there’s little reason to believe that he won’t be the #1 guy. Baldares made a big splash early in the season by beating National Runner-up Banks (Wartburg), but since then has come down to a Earth a bit. He’s a very good upper body wrestler and shows true grit and determination when he wrestles so he has a chance in every match. Kohler is a newcomber to Augsburg’s lineup and has had a fair amount of success against very good competition. There are several others that could enter the conversation come tournament time. Richardson (Augustana) had a lot of success before dropping from 184, but seemed to have trouble adjusting to the weight until the CCIW tournament. There he beat Baldares soundly and will be a serious contender if he can duplicate the effort.

184 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers –Rau (Elmhurst, #3), Hagan (St.Johns, #9), Steed (Wheaton, Contender)
Rau is not only the favorite to win the weight but also one of the favorites to win the Nationals. He is explosive, technical and very experienced as a returning All American. He will be most challenged by another talented upper weight from St. John’s in Hagan. Hagan has finally found his niche after being the odd man out of the lineup last season and is 23-5. Mitch Steed is an Oregon State transfer to Wheaton and one of the schools top wrestlers. He should be the clear #3 seed.

197 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Baxter (St.John’s, #2), Schmitz (Conc-Moorhead, #4), Baus (Augsburg, #8), Faber (Wheaton, HM), Vargas (Elmhurst, HM)
After earning All American honors at 184 last year, Baxter moves up. He is 28-1 and has not lost in D.III. He could face some stiff competition with two other wrestlers ranked in the top 10. Schmitz was a qualifier last season and has only one loss outside of Baxter and National Champ Byron Tate in division. That loss happens to be to Baus, who Schmitz has split with. In a very deep weight the likes of Faber, Vargas, Feraco (Augustana), and Mahler (North Central) could be in an important battle for fourth place and a chance at one of the regions wild cards.

285 lbs. Ranked Wrestlers – Johnson (Augsburg, #1), Bouressa (Conc-Moorhead, Contender), Brooks (Elmhurst, Contender)
Johnson has followed up his first All American performance with a dominating campaign. In Region he should not be tested, however, Bouressa was the nation’s top returner at the weight and could make things interesting. He has only wrestled in two events and quite possibly is not even Concordia’s entry. If that is the case it will open things up for a slew of contenders, most notably Brooks. Others with some hope to qualify are Schraidt (Augustana) and Kasprick (Conc-Moorhead) if Bouressa is not their entry.