LORAS COLLEGE – Anyone who has been following the Duhawk wrestling team this year expected the outcomes we received Saturday. Hosting the Division III Wrestling Central Regionals the Duhawks came into the day with Nick Steger and Steven DeWitt as number 1 seeds in their weight class, 157 and 141 respectively.
As the action progressed Saturday DeWitt took care of his weight class winning every match in route to taking 1st in the 157 and being named the regions ‘Most Outstanding Wrestler.’ Head Coach Steward has high praise for his senior who has dominated all year, but still has work left to be done, “I think this is the best region in the country and to be named outstanding wrestler, that is a big deal. That’s something that’s cool for now, but while enjoy it this spring because we still have some important stuff to get done in two weeks.”
For Steger he came into the day with an undefeated record at 22-0 and all went smoothly until Steger faced Buena Vista’s Nashid Barrow in the semifinals. After his first loss, Steger was mad at himself, but he did a great job channeling that energy. Facing Kaz Onoo of Wartburg with the winner moving onto Nationals in Hershey, Pennsylvania Steger was able to show off his strength. Onoo held control in the second period, but let Steger roll over and almost sit on top of him. Onoo still held control grasping his hands together around Steger chest, but Steger was able to turn his body enough to push his upper-body down and put Onoo on his back to get the pin.
Steward didn’t know how Steger would react to his first loss of the year. “I was very concerned mentally how he was going to come back. He came out and wrestled the UD kid, pinned him and then wrestling and stopping the only Wartburg kid who didn’t get to qualify, that’s a big deal.” “I think he got over a little hump, I mean I’m going back to when he was in high school and had some struggles at the end of the season and now it’s a real good sign that he knows he can do this.”
As for Triplett, one of four Duhawks to reach the semifinals it was a day of back and forth. Dominating his way to the semifinals Triplett got tripped up by eventual first place qualifier Connor Campo of Wartburg, however Triplett responded in wrestle-backs. Down 14-2, Triplett quickly shifts momentum and pins Brady Ruden of Coe College to find himself in the third place match. Unfortunately for Triplett, Nathan Shank would take major decision 10-2 and end Triplett’s season in fourth place. Steward commended Triplett for his performance. “He came in as a freshman, not even a kid we considered a starter, but he got thrust into that position. We talked about the opportunity, one you don’t get every day. We came up a little short, but not bad for a freshman.”
And the last Duhawk wrestler with a shot at Nationals was Greg Vance at 165. Vance lost in the quarterfinals, but came back and pinned three straight opponents to find himself one win away from Nationals. A back and forth match between Vance and Blake Letney of Luther going into extra time. Letney had an escape in the first 30 second period starting on the bottom. Then it was Vance’s turn. Vance bought his time for 20 seconds and then turn into gear and with four seconds left believed to have had an escape and what the hundred of refs in the stands believed to be a reversal, but the clock ran out on the Duhawk Cinderella and saw his season come to an end.
“Overall we had seven guys wrestling at the end of the day, very pleased with that. I was even pleased with the effort of the kids who weren’t. We have a fairly young team, not an excuse by any stretch, but I believe we’ve got some good mojo going on and I think the future bodes well, hopefully we’re sending more to Cedar Rapids next year.
Speaking of next year the Duhawks will return eight of their ten starters from Regionals only losing DeWitt and Joe Butler at 184. Like Coach Steward said the Duhawks were a very young team this year, but being young only leads to having experience come next year, a year in which the Duhawks hope to dominate the region.
Joel is a senior at Loras College and a Dubuque native. Joel is the Producer for SportsZONE, as well as anchor, reporter and commentator for Live Sports. Joel has spent past summers as a sports intern for KCCI-TV in Des Moines and has also interned for the Iowa Cubs video team. Joel has a strong passion for sports and loves to be involved in the community.