Tue, Feb. 12, 2013 - [Wrestling]
By Jim Naprstek, Assistant Sports Information Director
#27 Augustana, 9
With this week set as the last for the Duhawk wrestlers to plead their case before the NCAA Championships, the 27th ranked Augustana Vikings came in to Dubuque to square off against the Duhawks. Additionally, Tuesday marked the end of the career for senior Dave Skryzpiec who has assumed the role of student coach this year.
"After our win against Central last week, we turned our focus to tonight. Tonight was an in-region dual against not only a ranked opponent, but one of our rivals as well," head coach Randy Steward said.
In the first marquee matchup of the night, Nick Steger took on 6th ranked Jake Scholten. Without a whole lot of offense, Steger was able to control the tempo and sealed the win, 3-2.
"I told Steger that he had an important match tonight," Steward said, "but it's about protecting your house, and that's what these guys did tonight."
Freshman Evan Weaver continued the success for the Duhawks at 141-pounds with a 13-10 decision over Isaiah Schaub. Weaver was quick out of the gate and pushed the tempo for most of the match.
Building on his late season success, freshman Greg Vance wrestled at 149-pounds against Hector Ruiz. Here again, the Duhawk wrestler took the assertive role and was able to attack for most of the match. Ruiz attempted to equalize early, but Vance proved to be too strong, winning 11-5.
In the lone non-forfeit loss on the night, Dan Colatarti dropped his decision at 157-pounds, 8-1. The score stood at 8-0 with 10 seconds remaining, and while Kevin Sundberg had accumulated multiple minutes of riding time, Colatarti never gave up and was able to earn an escape with one second remaining in the third period.
"(That one) could be considered the match of the night, not because of the outcome, but because of how he battled and worked until the final whistle," Steward said.
At 165-pounds, Joe Butler brought Loras back into the win column with his 5-3 decision over Connor Cummings. In almost a methodical approach, Butler was able to control the attacks that Cummings attempted, and was quick to score when the opportunity presented itself.
In the second marquee matchup of the night, Stephan Birt wrestled Matt Burns at 174-pounds. Burns came in with 30 wins on the season, but Birt would not be deterred. With both wrestlers working hard, they fought their way through the match, both taking good chances and scoring points. Towards the end of the third, Birt was able to increase the gap, ending with an 8-5 victory.
"Burns was an All-American last year, so Stephan knew what he was going up against," Steward said, "and on top of that, Stephan hasn't been very consistent, so his win tonight was huge for him going into the tournament."
At 184-pounds, another close match was wrestled between Conor Winel and Thomas Reyhons. Again, the Duhawks came out strong and got an early lead, but Reyhons never gave up, and fought his way back, coming up just short and losing 9-7. Then at 197-pounds, Malcom Watson asserted his strength and quickness with the only major decision of the night. From the starting whistle, Watson was in control of the match and after earning points on an early takedown, never looked back, winning 15-5.
With one match remaining and the win in hand, James Buss stepped up for his opportunity to prove himself. After the marathon match last Friday night against Central's Jake Crawford, Buss came out strong once again, but this time, made sure the night ended after 2:59.
Buss' pin is his 12th on the year, and his 30th win overall. He joined Steger as the first two Duhawks with 30 wins on the year. Joe Butler is the next closest, with 20.
With the victory, the Duhawks have now won three straight duals, something they haven't been able to accomplish all season long. Steward believes that his team is peaking at the right point of the year.
"I said it after our dual at UD, we need consistency, and with three wins in a row, we really are peaking at the right time," Steward said, "and even more so, it's the sign of an improving program."
The Duhawks will travel to Elmhurst to wrestle the Blue Jays on Wednesday night, which will be the last dual for these wrestlers before the NCAA Regionals on March 2.