On Friday, Feb. 8, the Loras wrestling team took on Wartburg College here at home.
Starting off the meet was Brady Kyner in the 125 weight grouping. In his match against Wartburg’s Jake Hiles, Kyner was defeated by a fall at 1:46, giving Wartburg an early lead. Junior Brice Everson, weighing in at 133 pounds, made up for the first loss, successfully defeating returning national champion Brock Rathburn through a decision of 8-3. With the overall score being 3-6, junior Clint Lembeck pushed Loras into the lead with a win by fall over Brady Fritz in the 141 weight matchup.
Despite being able to take the lead after the third match, Wartburg fought back, pushing the Duhawk wrestlers into a corner. In the 149 weight group, senior Kevin Kelly lost to Kris Rumph through a decision of 10-4. Juniors Brandon Murray, clocking in at 157 pounds, and Eddie Smith at 165 pounds, both lost their matches via decision against Cross Cannone and Michael Ross respectively. Next up in the meet was sophomore Jacob Krakow. In his match against Kyle Briggs in the 174 pounds grouping, he was defeated through a major decision, the final score of his matchup being 13-5.
With four losses in a row, Loras trailed even farther behind Wartburg with a score of 9-19. In an attempt to close the gap, senior Sam Schuler successfully overcame Trevor Walton, beating him in the 184 weight matchup through a decision win of 8-7. Junior Guy Patron Jr., following Schuler’s lead, defeated Kobe Woods in the 197 weight match through a major decision of 10-2.
With the score being 16-19, the winner of the meet all came down to the final match in the 285 weight grouping. Senior Quin Gilliam, representing Loras, faced off against Wartburg’s Bowen Wileman. With the win on the line, Gilliam’s defeat through a major decision of 16-3 was all the more heartbreaking. With a final score of 16-23, the win went to Wartburg College.
Following the meet on that Friday, the members of the wrestling team went to Pella, Iowa to participate in the Central Last Chance Invitational. By the end of the day, six of the wrestlers were crowned champions. The first Duhawk champion of the day was first-year Zeke Smith in the 125 weight category. He successfully defeated Cornell and Buena Vista, and through a win due a medical forfeit by teammate first-year Duncan McCain, was crowned the first champion. First-year Zach Licht took first place in the 133 weight bracket through a win over Truman and two more over his fellow wrestlers. Taking home the champion title in the 141 weight bracket was sophomore Frankie Indelli, who triumphed over Graceland, Dubuque, and Cornell. First-year Adam Valdez, the fourth Duhawk champion of the day, claimed his title through wins over Lincoln, teammate Brock Turner, and unattached Joe Eads in the 149 weight bracket. In the 165 weight bracket, first-year Tad Griffith overcame Lincoln, Buena Vista, and in the finals, Truman, giving him the fifth Duhawk champion title. The final Duhawk champion of the day was first-year Alex Ward in the 174 weight bracket. Having to take on four different colleges, he easily claimed victory over Central, Buena Vista, Dubuque, and Cornell, and took home the sixth champion title for the wrestling team.
“I thought that the team performed very well,” said Head Coach TJ Miller. “Loras had the most champs, and some of our own were in the finals together. So we had a couple of co-champions at different weights if you will.”
With a heartbreaking loss on Friday and a parade of champions on Saturday, the Duhawk wrestlers had an eventful weekend. Next up on their schedule is the NCAA Lower Midwest Regional, which is being held on Feb. 23 and 24 at the Five Flags Center in downtown Dubuque.