In an exciting turn of events, the Duhawk wrestling team had an excellent weekend down at the Five Flags Center. Finishing second in the overall team standings, they are sending four Duhawks to the NCAA Division III National Tournament in La Crosse, WI, in two weeks. The Duhawks also placed two other wrestlers in the top four, junior Awais Arian and first-year Eddie Smith.
Starting off strong, first-year Clint Lembeck took a dominant win with a pin against Ny’Trell Dean from University of the Ozarks in 2:17. Then, continuing his domination on the mat, Lembeck pinned Daniel Radcliffe from Central College in the second period. That win already qualified him to go to nationals, but he wanted to put the nail in the coffin and show people why he deserves to go.
In the championship match Lembeck wrestled No. 3 ranked nationally Cross Cannone from Wartburg. Last time they wrestled against each other, Lembeck gave Cannone a run for his money but ended up losing 5-3. This time Lembeck, with something to show, came out like he had all day and dominated the mat. Lembeck pinned Cannone in the third period to make him the 141-pound Central Regional Champion.
To cap off his college regional debut, Lembeck was named National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) Regional Outstanding Wrestler.
Junior Jimmy Davis came out of the chute like he was on fire and pinned Cornell College’s Nic Jarvis in 11 seconds.
Davis’ next match was against one of the three guys who beat him this year, University of Dubuque’s Quincy Kalkbrenner. Davis came out and put up a fight that would end up in success, defeating Kalkbrenner 10-7. Moving on to the championship match, Davis had to face another guy who beat him this season, Logan Thomsen from Wartburg College. Thomsen and Davis went all three rounds, but Thomsen beat Davis 13-4 major decision.
First-year Guy Patron Jr. had a big start to his long day with pinning Tyler Puls from Buena Vista University. In the second round Patron faced Derek Stork from Luther College. Patron was beating Stork by eight points when Stork got lucky and had Patron stuck in a cradle. Unable to escape, Patron lost to Stork by a pin. Patron buckled down and fought his way back tooth and nail through the consolation matches.
He also faced University of Nebraska Wesleyan’s Ben Lodema. Patron was on a rampage and pinned Lodema as well as the next two wrestlers, including Augustana College’s Ethan Benoit and Coe College’s Andrew Holladay.
In the next match, Patron wrestled for third place and a chance to go to nationals. Patron faced Stork again in this match and he showed the audience that Stork didn’t stand a chance. Patron defeated Stork in a 15-0 tech fall and to finish his day of wrestling.
Sophomore Quin Gilliam also had a strong day of wrestling, starting off with a 13-3 major decision win against Simpson College’s Colby Vlieger. Gilliam lost his second match 3-2 to Augustana’s Adarios Jones. In the consolation bracket and looking at a chance to still go to nationals, Gilliam defeated Tyler Ortman from Cornell College 3-2. Gilliam faced Vlieger again and pinned his way to Nationals in the third place match.
Looking toward Nationals at La Crosse, WI, head coach TJ Miller is stoked for the young wrestlers.
“Why would I fear anything? I’m pretty darn excited for them. Fear isn’t a word that really comes to mind.”
Having a wrestler go to Nationals is pretty exciting, but having two first-years go is on the next level.
“I expect them to go out and give it their best,” said Miller.
“Those two first-years are really fun to watch when they go out and cut loose. Clint going out there and pinning the No. 3-ranked guy in the nation was a pretty big highlight for me this year.”
Gilliam has got an advantage going into Nationals, according to Miller.
“Quin started the year about 30 pounds heavier than what he is now. I think that has ultimately been something that has helped him. He’s always been really strong and now he’s much more agile and explosive. He’s getting better every day.”
Davis being a junior and a leader on the team has to take things in stride and move forward.
“I expect Jimmy to take it one day at a time,” Miller said about Davis. “To try and get better each day like he has all year. I expect Jimmy to go out there and compete hard one match at a time.”
Since this is all of their first time at Nationals it could be a little more challenging. But coach Miller has confidence in them.
“(Their) biggest weakness is they have never been there before, but sometimes that is a strength.”
Nationals in La Crosse, WI, begin Friday March 10 and continue on Saturday,