Duhawks dropped by Knights

Nate Kaiser (TheLorian)

The defending American Rivers Conference wrestling champions, Loras College, traveled to Waverly Iowa to face Wartburg College this past weekend in a battle for the 2021 conference crown.

Junior Zeke Smith goes for a half nelson

It was every bit the dog fight you would expect. The Knights are ranked number two in the nation in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll with the Duhawks ranked ninth. This late in the season coaches expect their wrestlers to compete nearly error-free.

“In highly contested matches against quality opponents you just can’t make those kinds of mistakes that we made,” said assistant coach Trevor Kittleson. Wartburg came out swinging picking up three dominating early wins at 125, 133, and 141.

At 149 pounds junior Zeke Smith wrestled hard against Wartburg’s Brady Fritz but lost by decision 3-1. Up next junior Daniel Ruiz, the 5th ranked wrestler in the nation at 157 pounds fought a hard match against the ARC wrestler of the week David Hollinsworth. The two battled back and forth in one of the most entertaining matches of the night, although Ruiz would fall short by one point losing in a decision, 6-5.

The Duhawks lone win on the day came from sophomore Shane Ligel, who is ranked 4th in the nation at 184 pounds. He made quick work of Wartburg’s Cael Krueger picking up a fall in 4:02.

Loras gave up the ARC championship, losing the dual against Wartburg, 28-5. Kittleson says the COVID-19 shortened season is partly to blame for the lopsided loss. But, he says, he is excited about the future of several of his younger wrestlers this season.

“We have 5 or 6 new faces in the lineup, and a lot of those guys haven’t been in that kind of heated situation, a big match situation,” Kittleson said. “Usually we have 25 matches coming into this dual, we would have been in some of those big situations before and a lot of these guys just haven’t had that opportunity.”

For the second straight year, the NCAA is canceling the National Championships for the winter sports. Because of this the National Wrestling Coaches Association announced they will organize a National Championship for the teams at the Division III level.

In an announcement about the championship on the NWCA website, they said, “We want to mirror, as closely as possible, the quality and feel of an NCAA Championship experience for the student-athletes.”

Loras will be back in action on home turf taking on Coe college and Central College on Feb. 21. Kittleson hopes the Wartburg loss will be a wake-up call for his wrestlers.

“The dual was a good realization for us, we have to step up our work ethic,”. Kittleson said. “We have to focus on Coe and Central coming up because the most important dual is the next one, but we have to go back to work and get ready for the next time we face off.”

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Nate Kaise is a freshman at Loras College. He is from Rockton Illinois and a Media Studies major. He is currently a reporter and Associate Producer for LCTV SportsZone.

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