CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It was another tale of hardship on Friday at the NCAA National Meet as, for the second straight year, Concordia was left with only one wrestler advancing to Day 2.
The good news for the Cobbers is that for the ninth straight year they will have at least one All-American. No.3-ranked Jakob Stageberg won both of his matches to advance to the semifinals. His semifinalist status means that Stageberg becomes the 26th NCAA All-American in the history of the program.
Stageberg also continues the tradition of Cobber All-Americans. Concordia has had at least one All-American for nine straight seasons and has had 14 All-Americans in the past seven years.
Stageberg started his All-American quest by getting a major decision over Brenden Velez from Delaware Valley. Stageberg went on the offensive from the start of the match and scored a 13-4 win.
Stageberg then went defensive in his quarterfinal match and won 3-2 over James Kaishian over Ithaca. Neither wrestler scored in the first period and then Stageberg got the escape point at the start of the second period. Kaishian returned the favor at the start of the third and then Stageberg got the match-deciding takedown in the final minute of the third period. Kaishian was able to earn an escape late but Stageberg kept him at arm’s length to make sure there would be no last-second upset.
With the two wins Stageberg moves to 35-7 on the season. His 35 wins ties for fifth most in school history in a single season. The record of 38 is just out of his reach but with a pair of wins on Saturday he could tie for the fourth most and post one more win than assistant coach Phil Moenkedick had in his best year (2008 – 36-6).
The other five Cobber wrestlers ran into tough competition and some bad luck.
The two Cobber seniors – Gabe Foltz and Ben Cousins – lost tough, tight first-round matches and were then the victims of huge upsets in the first round that led to losses in the first match of wrestlebacks.
Foltz started the day with a 4-0 loss to Devin Proukal of No.2-ranked Wabash. Foltz then ran into the No.1-ranked wrestler in the nation at 133. Connor Campo of No.1-ranked Wartburg was the victim of a huge upset in the first round. The wrestleback match between Foltz and Campo was a great battle with neither athlete wanting to make a season-ending mistake. The match was tied after two periods with each wrestler getting an escape point. Campo was able to get a takedown in the middle of the third period to earn a 3-2 win.
Foltz finishes his season with a 25-7 record and was 71-42 in his four-year career.
Cousins lost two matches by a combined total of three points.
He started his NCAA Meet with a 3-1 loss in the sudden victory period of overtime against Logan Meister of Ferrum. Cousins then had to square off against the No.5-ranked wrestler in the nation who was upset in the opening round. Once again Cousins went down to the wire but gave up a late takedown and lost 3-2 to Nick Bova of No.2-ranked Wabash.
Cousins finished off a tremendous season and an inspirational four-year career. He posted a career-best 27 wins this season and had 65 wins in his career.
The sophomore trio of Cole Sladek, Jake Johnson and Ricky Briggs were all competing in their very first NCAA Meet and their inexperience at the national level showed.
Sladek got pinned in his opening match in the championship match. He then rallied to earn an 8-5 decision over Teddy Erickson of St. John’s in a wrestleback “pigtail” match. Sladek then had his season closed out by Nick Velez of Ithaca. Sladek lost by technical fall in his third match of the national meet.
Johnson couldn’t generate any offense in his first match of the meet and lost 8-0. He then fell by a 6-3 decision in the first round of the consolation bracket.
Johnson ends his year with 19 wins after having only eight wins in his freshman season.
Briggs was the only CC wrestler that had to start the day with a “pigtail” match to get into the championship round. He lost by a technical fall to two-time NCAA Meet participant Jeff Palmeri of Brockport State.
Briggs rallied to gain a big 8-5 decision to eliminate Sebastian Larson of Augsburg in a wrestleback “pigtail” match. He then ran in to Bryan Levsen of No.1-ranked Wartburg and lost 13-0.
Stageberg will step on to the mat in the semifinals of the NCAA Meet on Saturday, Mar. 12 at 10 a.m. Stageberg faces unseeded CJ Pestano of Central (Iowa) who upset the No.2-ranked wrestler in the quarterfinals. Pestano is 27-4 on the year.
If Stageberg wins the semifinal match he will lead off the championship round starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday. If Stageberg falls in the semifinals he will wrestle in the third-place match later in the morning session.
NCAA Division III National Championships Brackets/Results on TrackWrestling.com
Concordia Individual Results
125 – Jakob Stageberg
Champ. Round 1 – Jakob Stageberg won by major decision over Brenden Velez (Delaware Valley University) 17-9 (MD 13-4)
Quarterfinal – Jakob Stageberg won by decision over James Kaishian (Ithaca) 37-4 (Dec 3-2)
133 – Gabe Foltz
Champ. Round 1 – Devin Broukal (Wabash) 17-6 won by decision over Gabe Foltz (Dec 4-0)
Cons. Round 1 – Connor Campo (Wartburg) 28-2 won by decision over Gabe Foltz (Dec 3-2)
157 – Ben Cousins
Champ. Round 1 – Logan Meister (Ferrum College) 27-2 won in sudden victory – 1 over Ben Cousins (SV-1 3-1)
Cons. Round 1 – Nick Bova (Wabash) 27-3 won by decision over Ben Cousins (Dec 3-2)
165 – Cole Sladek
Champ. Round 1 – Nolan Barger (Lycoming) 30-2 won by fall over Cole Sladek (Fall 0:31)
Prelim – Cole Sladek won by decision over Teddy Erickson (St. Johns (MN)) 11-10 (Dec 8-5)
Cons. Round 1 – Nick Velez (Ithaca) 32-5 won by tech fall over Cole Sladek (TF-1.5 3:27 (16-0))
174 – Jake Johnson
Champ. Round 1 – Ryan Harrington (Coe) 20-2 won by major decision over Jake Johnson (MD 8-0)
Cons. Round 1 – Doug Hamann (The College of New Jersey) 27-6 won by decision over Jake Johnson (Dec 6-3)
184 – Ricky Briggs
Prelim – Jeff Palmeri (Brockport) 32-5 won by tech fall over Ricky Briggs (TF-1.5 5:43 (16-0))
Prelim – Ricky Briggs won by decision over Sebastian Larson (Augsburg) 16-12 (Dec 8-5)
Cons. Round 1 – Bryan Levsen (Wartburg) 20-5 won by major decision over Ricky Briggs (MD 13-0)
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