Duhawk wrestlers ready to lace up for regionals

The Loras wrestlers will face their toughest test of the season this weekend as they compete in the NCAA Central Division qualifying tournament at the Dubuque Five Flags Center. The Central Region is widely regarded as the toughest region in Division III, and this year’s field is no exception. Five of the 13 teams competing in Sunday’s tournament are currently ranked in the top 25 nationally, including top-ranked, undefeated Wartburg.

“This is my favorite part of the season,” head coach Randy Steward said. “It’s the home-stretch, and it’s exciting. We’re trying to have a lot of energy and intensity in practice this week, and the kids are responding well. They’re going to have to be ready to go out and battle one match at a time. Let’s hope they are.”

The top three finishers in each weight class on Sunday will advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament on March 11-12 in Cedar Rapids. The complete field of teams competing on Sunday consists of Augustana, Buena Vista, Central, Coe, Cornell, University of Dubuque, Huntingdon, Loras, Luther, Millikin, Simpson, University of the Ozarks and Wartburg.

Here’s a quick run-down of the Duhawks’ lineup for Sunday, along with comments from Coach Steward:

125 – Dayton Olson, Sophomore (13-10)

“He’s been here a year, so he’s been through the tournament before. He got on a little bit of a roll here in the last month. If he goes in there and has a good day, anything can happen.”

133 – Michael Triplett, Sophomore (10-11)

“He had a pretty good tournament last year. You hope he can recapture that, with those feelings and that mentality. He certainly has the ability.”

141 – Evan Weaver, Junior (17-8)

“Evan’s one of those kids who does everything right. He’s battled some injuries, but we’re just trying to get him feeling good and ready to go, because he can beat anyone in that weight class.”

149 – Colin Griffin, Senior (5-15)

“Colin Griffin’s a senior, but a first-year starter. He stepped up for the team and cut some weight to make this weight class when we didn’t have anybody else. He’s had some struggles this year, but he’s won some matches. Hopefully he’ll win some more on Sunday.”

157 – Jimmy Davis, Sophomore (17-10)

“Another first-year starter. He had a good season last year as (All-American Steven) DeWitt’s backup. Here’s another guy good enough to win the weight class, in my opinion, but he’s got to go out there and prove it. I’m excited to see what happens.”

165 – Sam Schuler, First-year (13-17)

“We’ve used a bunch of different guys (at 157), but Sam seems to be the most consistent as of late. He’s a freshman, so it’s about getting him to believe in himself and feel good on Sunday.”

174 – Chris Malone, First-year (9-16)

“Chris is pretty healthy, and he’s the guy we’re going to put out there. If I look back to where he was in October, and where he’s at now, he’s improved a lot. Obviously he wants to improve a lot more, and this is another step in that process.”

184 – Awais Arain, Sophomore (10-14)

“Just like our season as a team, he’s struggled at different times, and he’s come on a little bit. He’s been through this before, so I think he’s excited and good to go.”

197 – Malcolm Watson, Senior (20-6)

“(Watson’s) A four-year starter. He’s been a really bright spot in our program this year, and a leader. He’ll be seeded third, and the top three go. Obviously, we want him to win the thing, and we think he’s good enough to win it. He hasn’t beaten the two returning All-Americans ahead of him, so he’s got to go out and prove it. He’s really done the right things this year in preparing himself, and I look for good things from him.”

285 – Quin Gilliam, First-year (8-11)

“Quin’s the guy at heavyweight. Here’s a guy who was a state champ in high school in Louisiana. There’s two or three good heavyweights here, but he’s certainly a guy who can get in there and compete with them. Again, if he puts a good day together, anything can happen.”

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