Championships on the horizon
By Connor Halbmaier
Two weeks ago, the Duhawk wrestlers competed in the NCAA Regionals, and succeeded in qualifying eight for the championships. Now, the time has finally come for wrestlers across Division III to compete for the coveted first place title. In order to prepare for the big weekend, let’s review how the Duhawk wrestles performed in last year’s championships, and for the newcomers, how they fared in this year’s regionals.
Clint Lembeck, weighing in at 141 pounds, is no stranger to the fierce competition found in the championships. In the opening of his tournament last year, he mercilessly took two opponents with decision wins. The streak ended abruptly, however, when he dropped a 7-4 decision against Augsburg. Knocked out of running for first, Lembeck took down the opponent from his first match with a technical fall, and went on to claim third place after his opponent forfeited due to injury.
A sophomore in the group of eight, 149 pounder Daniel Ruiz debuted in his first regionals this year. Being his first regionals experience, Ruiz performed exceptionally well, defeating his first opponent with a 11-3 major decision. Continuing his streak, he claimed a victory over his second opponent with a fall at 2:26, and then a decision 13-6 over his third. In the match for first, Ruiz lost to a decision 4-1, granting him second place.
Another championship veteran, Brandon Murray is returning to once again compete in the 157-pound bracket. In last year’s championship, Murray’s opening match ended with a fall in favor of the Duhawk. After moving past his second round due to a forfeit, Murray sustained his first loss, defeated with a decision 5-1. Murray clawed his way back up, taking out three opponents with a fall at 6:42, a decision 6-2, and a decision 8-4 respectively. His tournament was ended, though, when a Wartburg wrestler beat him with major decision 10-1, making Murray the fourth-place victor.
Eddie Smith is the third returning wrestler for this year’s championship. Like this year, Smith competed as a 165 pounder in last year’s competition. Smith started his tournament with a decision 7-5, but was then defeated with a decision 3-2. On his way back up, Smith knocked down one opponent with a decision 2-1, another with a technical fall, and a third with a decision 6-3. In his final round, the Duhawk was defeated with a decision 6-3, giving him the fourth-place title.
Returning for another bout in the championships is the 174 pounder Jacob Krakow. Krakow’s first match of his previous championship ended with a defeat through a decision 10-4. The Duhawk went on to win his next two matches, but was defeated in the match for third place with a decision 5-3. In his final match of the tournament, Krakow lost through a decision 9-5, naming him the eighth-place finisher.
A newcomer to the team, freshman Shane Liegel is moving into the championships to compete in the 184-weight bracket. In his first regionals as a Duhawk, Liegel opened up with a victory through a fall at 0:47 of the match. He went on to claim a major defeat 14-0, but then was defeated before he could make it to the finals. In the match for third place, Liegel took down his foe with a fall at time 5:33, giving him the third-place title.
The last returner for the championships is none other than Guy Patron Jr. Last year, this 197 pounder went into the tournament swinging, quickly taking down his first opponent with a fall at 0:49. The momentum carried on through his next two matches, which he won with decisions 17-4 and 9-3 respectively. Patron Jr. lost his chance at first place after he was defeated with a decision 5-1, but came back and claimed fifth through a decision 6-4.
The final Duhawk competing in this year’s championship is the newcomer Wyatt Wriedt. In his regionals match, Wreidt started out strong, claiming victory through a fall at 2:14. He followed up with a major decision 11-1 and then a decision 11-4, claiming a spot in the finals. However, Wriedt streak was destroyed when his opponent came out on top with a close decision 6-5, granting Wriedt second place.
It’s been a strong season for the Duhawks, and soon it will end. But first, these eight chosen wrestlers must compete for victory in the championships. This year, the NCAA Championships will be taking place in Cedar Rapids, IA, on Friday Mar. 13 and Saturday Mar. 14.