Senior Steven DeWitt and junior Nick Steger each earned All-American honors over the weekend, after advancing to the semifinal round of the NCAA Division III Championships in Hershey, PA. DeWitt finished fourth in the 157-pound bracket, and Steger finished fifth at 141.
While both men went to Hershey with goals of becoming National Champions, the All-American distinction provides fitting punctuation for the outstanding individual seasons turned in by DeWitt and Steger in 2014-15. DeWitt finished the season with an overall record of 35-4, while Steger posted a 28-3 mark.
DeWitt opened his tournament by earning a 13-8 decision in an out-bracket match against Roger Williams University’s Tyler Herzog. In his second match, DeWitt built an 11-3 lead over Shawn Brewer of Alma College before an injury to Brewer forced the bout to a halt, sending DeWitt through to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinal round pitted DeWitt against Tom Gerszewski of UW-Whitewater, in a return bout from the NWCA Duals on Jan. 9, when DeWitt earned an 8-4 decision. On the strength of 3 takedowns and a reversal, DeWitt duplicated the feat on Friday, earning another decision over Gerszewski by an identical score, and advancing to Saturday’s semifinal round.
In the semis, DeWitt was met by top-seeded and undefeated Nick Carr of Washington and Jefferson College. Carr lived up to his billing, scoring 4 takedowns and limiting DeWitt’s scoring to escape points en route to the 10-3 decision. Carr would go on to be crowned champion at 157 pounds, toppling Wabash’s Reece Lefever in the finals.
A familiar face awaited DeWitt in the consolation bracket, as he squared off against Wartburg’s Drew Waggenhoffer for the third time this season in his first wrestleback. Just like in their two previous meetings, DeWitt came out the victor, scoring a 10-5 decision to complete the trifecta over his Iowa Conference rival.
DeWitt came up short in his 3rd-place match, yielding a 1st-period fall to 3rd-seeded Jorge Lopez of Williams College. The senior closed out his collegiate career as a 4th-place finisher with All-American honors.
Steger began his first trip to Nationals with an opening-round pinfall victory over Jake Sevoca of Williams College. Steger pinned Sevoca at 6:11, after building a comfortable lead with takedowns and back points.
In his quarterfinal match, Steger faced 3rd-seeded Jacoby Bergeron of Concordia-Moorhead. After a scoreless 1st period, Steger built 1:27 of riding time to begin the 2nd period before allowing the escape. Steger started the 3rd period from the bottom position, but escaped fast enough to preserve his riding time and grind out the 2-1 decision.
The semifinal round at 141 pounds featured an Iowa Conference showdown between Steger and Luther’s Drew Van Anrooy. Van Anrooy came out on top of an early 1st-period scramble, and was able to stick Steger’s shoulders to the mat for a fall just 41 seconds into the bout, knocking him from the championship bracket.
Steger would drop an 11-5 decision to NYU’s Brandon Jones in his first consolation match, but bounced back to earn a 4-1 decision over Layten Binion of North Central (IL) to finish the tournament with a victory and a 5th-place finish.
“I’m just so proud of both of them,” said Head Coach Randy Steward of his two All-Americans. “They lost in the semifinals, and you’ll see a lot of kids in that situation just cash it in and go to sixth place. But they both stepped up and won another match after that, so I think that says a lot about them.”
The Duhawks finished the tournament in 15th-place in the overall team standings.