Prepping for Regionals
By Connor Halbmaier
It’s that time of year again, when the Duhawk wrestlers take on teams throughout Division III in the annual NCAA Lower Midwest Regionals. In preparation for the big event, let’s take a look at Loras’ top ranked wrestlers and how they fared in the previous year’s Regionals.
First up is senior Clint Lembeck, who ranks sixth in the 141-weight category. Last year marked the second time this Duhawk was crowned regional champion, which was made possible through his impressive display of skills during his matches. Some highlights include defeating Wartburg’s Brady Fritz, who is currently ranked fourth, and the two-time All-American Chris Williams from Millikin.
Moving into the 157 pounders, senior Brandon Murray is ranked fourth. Murray fought hard in his bracket, taking out Westminster’s Jacob Warren with a 7-4 decision win, and dominating Luther’s Teagan Miller with a 16-1 technical fall. However, Murray’s streak was ended that day in the finals match against Wartburg’s Cross Cannone, who clipped the Duhawk’s wings with a fall 6-2.
Ranked third among 165 pounders is senior Eddie Smith. It was an amazing tournament for Smith, who showed no mercy to his opponents as he claimed his first regional championship. Along his journey to the top, Smith took down Augustana’s Neil O’Shaughnessy with a 15-0 technical fall, Cornell’s Ben Hewson with a 3-1 decision, and Buena Vista’s Brad Kerkhoff with a 9-0 major decision.
Jacob Krakow, the only junior of Loras’ top ranked wrestlers, is currently ranked fifth in the 174-weight grouping. In order to claim his third spot placement in the tournament, Krakow overcame multiple opponents, including Ozarks’ Ndayambaje John with a 17-1 technical fall, North Central’s Cam Hayes with a 3-1 decision win, and in the finale, Central’s Nathan Fritz with a fall.
A fresh face among the Duhawk crew, freshman Shane Liegel is currently ranked eighth as a 184-pound wrestler. During his match in the Wartburg meet, Liegel was pitted against Kyle Briggs, who was ranked second. It was a tough loss for the Duhawk, who was defeated with a 14-4 major decision. Before Wartburg, Liegel competed against Dubuque’s Chris Nielsen, whom he soundly beat with a 11-3 major decision.
Last, but certainly not least, is senior Guy Patron Jr., the current number one among all of Division III’s 197 pounders. During last year’s Regionals, Patron was crowned the champion after his merciless conquest through the ranks. Some of his highlights include defeating Coe’s Taylor Mehmen, who is currently ranked second, with a 6-2 decision, and Millikin’s Keajion Jennings, whom Patron pinned in 1:16 during the finals.
Looking back at last year’s Regionals, this year is shaping up to be just as eventful. As a reminder, the NCAA Lower Midwest Regionals will be held in Dubuque’s Five Flags Center on Saturday, Feb. 29, and Sunday, Mar. 1.