Four Duhawks qualify for Nationals
Coach Steward and Asst. Coach Jordan Loy congratulate Erik Hanson after the 3rd place match
Coach Steward and Asst. Coach Jordan Loy congratulate Erik Hanson after the 3rd place match
Tue, Mar. 1, 2011 - [Wrestling]

The Loras College wrestling team finished fifth at the Iowa Conference Championships on Saturday at Simpson College. In total, they scored 92.5 team points and placed six Duhawks in the third place matches to try and automatically qualify for the March 11-12 NCAA Division III Championships in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Four of those Duhawks won their matches, and advanced to the Championships.

Entering the tournament, Loras had three Duhawks seeded fourth, two fifth, one sixth, two eighth, and two ninth.

Below is a weight by weight breakdown of Loras' day in Indianola.

125# - Pat Pfantz, #8-seed, 0-3

Pfantz drew top seed and defending national champion Clayton Rush in the quarterfinals and lost by a technical fall. He was then pinned by #5-seed Timothy Hood of Cornell in the third period before dropping the seventh place match to #3-seed Austin Mogg of Buena Vista. Pfantz finished where he was seeded in eighth.

133# - Matt Holmes, #4-seed, 3-1

Holmes dropped a very evenly matched quarterfinal to #5-seed Louis Mazzetta after a single takedown by the Norseman sending him to the consolation bracket. Holmes quickly disposed of Central's Bryan Connolly (#8-seed) by pinning him in just 0:35. He then knocked off #3 Drew Hinschberger of Coe with an early third period pin to make his way to the third place match. It was there Holmes avenged the earlier loss to Mazzetta by controlling a 6-2 decision. Holmes, a sophomore from Lake Villa, Illinois will make his first trip to the NCAA Division III Championships.

141# - Nathan Fuller, #8-seed, 2-2

Fuller won the #8/#9 opening round match over Tim Vore of Buena Vista to advance. He was pinned in the first period there by top seeded Matt Kelly. He followed with another loss by fall to #5-seed Eric Powell of Dubuque, but did win the seventh place match over #6-seed Derek Entz of Simpson 8-2.

149# - Joe Wood, #5-seed, 2-2

Wood entered the tournament second on the team with 22 wins. He knocked off #4-seed Caleb Brus of host Simpson College with an 8-4 win in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he lost 21-6 to top seeded Jacob Groth of Wartburg. He quickly disposed of #6 seed Derek Mizaur of Dubuque in the consolation bracket 15-0 to reach the third place match. Jacob Schwebke of Cornell, seeded third, then won a tightly contested 6-4 decision to end Wood's impressive first season with Loras.

157# - Erik Hanson, #4 -seed, 3-1

Hanson, a two-time national qualifier entering the day, did himself a big favor by winning a third overtime/tiebreaking period over #5-seed Ryan Warcynski of Dubuque in the quarterfinals. The 6-5 win sent Hanson to the semifinals against #1-seed Carrington Banks of Wartburg. Hanson scored two points, but was defeated 7-2 by Banks. He then scored eight points in his win over #7-seed Josh Atwell of Central. His third place match was a rematch with Warcynski. Warcynski had to return to the mat to validate his previous match with Dale Handley of Coe which made the rematch the final duel of the afternoon session at Simpson. Hanson used a late third period takedown of Warcynski to break a 1-1 tie and punch his ticket to his third NCAA Division III Championships.

165# - Mitch Gansen, #5-seed, 2-2

Gansen earned a hard-fought victory over #4-seed Joe Hambleton of Cornell in the quarterfinals to advance to take on Dubuque's Josh Terrell, the defending national champion at 165-pounds. Terrell sent Gansen to the consolation bracket with a 15-2 major decision. Gansen answered with a pin of #7-seed Reid Imerman of Central in the first period. Hambleton was the rematch for Gansen in the third place match. Riding an upset of #2 Nick LeClere in the previous round, Hambleton controlled the bout and earned a 17-2 win.

174# - Stephan Birt, #6-seed, 3-1

Birt was Loras' lowest-seeded wrestler to advance to nationals on Friday with his run through the 174-pound brackets. Garrett Bonte of Luther, the third seed, sent Birt to the consolation bracket with a 10-6 win in the quarterfinals. Birt rallied for a pair of wins to reach the third place match, including an 8-3 win over #8-seed Jordan Ammons of Simpson and a 6-2 win over #5-seed Derick Minch of Dubuque. Yet another quarterfinals rematch took place with this nationals bid on the line. Birt showed some aggressiveness early and went on to win the match 8-5 over Bonte to avenge the loss earlier in the day and advance to LaCrosse in his freshman season.

184# - Tiegen Podliska, #9-seed, 1-3

Podliska won a major decision in the #8/#9 match over Joe Klinkel of Dubuque. Then Wartburg's Dylan Azinger defeated him 11-3. Podliska was taken down early in his first consolation bracket match and pinned by #5-seed Matt Fassbinder of Luther. Justin Bruce of Simpson, the #7-seed, took the seventh place match 18-4.

197# - Stephen Liske, #9-seed, 0-2

Liske, a sophomore making his first appearance in the Iowa Conference championships, was pinned twice. The first was by #8-seed Jared Bevins of host Simpson, the second by #7-seed Theron Stewart of Central. The 197# bracket was the one that unfolded closest to the pre-tournament seeding.

285# - Jeremy Klein, #4-seed, 3-1

Klein's quarterfinal match was a slow-moving 3-2 loss to #5-seed Taylor Mansfield of Luther, but the two would meet later in the day. Klein went on to go 3-0 in the consolation bracket, beginning with a pin of #8-seed Matt Sefcik of Buena Vista in the first period. Klein the battled #3-seed Tyler Dirkx of Central and earned a spot in the third place match with a 5-3 decision over the Dutchman. Klein then had his second shot at Mansfield with his bid to nationals on the line. An evenly matched first two periods led to a heart-pounding third. Klein countered a shot by Mansfield with a takedown to claim the lead and won the match 5-2, earning his first berth to the NCAA Division III Championships in his senior season. He had previously won fifth place matches twice.

At the conclusion of the day, head coach Randy Steward was named the Iowa Conference Coach of the Year after sending four Duhawks to nationals.
The Duhawks were seventh in the team standings after the Iowa Conference duals but climbed two spots to fifth on Friday (their best finish since 2007)with their impressive performances, which included sending three #4-seeds and one #6-seed to nationals. The award was Steward's third in his career. He also won the award in 1995 and 2001.