|Nebraska-Kearney crowns 3 champs to capture title at NCAA Division II Championships
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Nebraska-Kearney celebrates after winning its second national team title in wrestling. Gary Abbott photo.
PUEBLO, Colo. – Nebraska-Kearney seniors Dalton Jensen and T.J. Hepburn stepped onto the elevated platform for the final time in their college careers.
And made an impact they will never forget.
Jensen and Hepburn both locked up cradles to earn dramatic finals pins to lift the Lopers to the team title at the NCAA Division II Championships before 3,295 fans on Saturday night at CSU-Pueblo’s Massari Arena.
Third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney, which also had a champion in 149-pounder Raufeon Stots, edged No. 1 St. Cloud State 107-95 in the team race. The teams were tied 91-91 entering the finals.
UNK won its second national title after previously winning in 2008. St. Cloud State, shooting for its first title, finished second for the second straight year.
“It was an absolute roller coaster today,” UNK coach Marc Bauer said. “St. Cloud had a heck of a run this morning, but our guys responded and stepped it up. It was a storybook ending for these seniors. It was an amazing weekend for us. I’ll never forget this. It’s unbelievable.”
The top-ranked Jensen, second in this event last year, slapped a cradle on fourth-ranked William Young of Newberry to score a dramatic second-period fall in the 141-pound finals. Young was second at 133 last year. Jensen, a past starter for Iowa State, leaped to his feet in celebration.
“This was my last competition and I left it all out on the mat,” Jensen said. “It’s a great way to finish my career. It’s been 20 years in the making.”
Stots scored a pair of early takedowns before holding off unranked freshman Keenan Hagerty of Maryville 5-4 in the 149 finals.
Hepburn was up next at 157, and he wasted little time when he cradled West Liberty’s Jarrod Shaw to record a pin just 2 minutes, 17 seconds into the match. Hepburn leaped into the air as he officially clinched the team title for the Lopers.
“I told these guys, ‘I’m going for a pin in the finals,’” said Hepburn, who placed second in this event at 149 last year. “It feels great to go out this way. It’s awesome. We worked so hard and it finally paid off.”
St. Cloud State fought back valiantly in Saturday’s first session after Nebraska-Kearney had taken a big lead after Friday’s first day. The Huskies went 1-2 in the finals.
St. Cloud State’s Derek Skala capped his college career with a 9-3 win over Findlay’s Adam Walters in the 184 finals.
“One of my main goals was to win it as a team,” Skala said. “We battled, but you have to take your hat off to Kearney. They wrestled really well. I just had to try and block that out and focus on my match. It’s unbelievable to win a national title.”
Top-ranked Upper Iowa junior Trevor Franklin won his second straight national title after edging third-ranked Andy Pokorny of St. Cloud State 3-2 in the 133 finals. Franklin won an NCAA title at 125 last year. Franklin became Upper Iowa’s first two-time national champion in Division II.
“He’s a tough kid,” Franklin said. “I expected him to go hard the whole seven minutes and he did. Winning this again, it’s just as exciting as last year. It’s just awesome.”
Returning heavyweight champion Matthew Mueleners of Northern State beat St. Cloud State’s Jake Kahnke for the second straight year in the finals, earning a 3-1 overtime win.
Grand Canyon junior Kyle McCrite became his school’s second national champion when he downed Augustana’s Cody Lensing 9-3 in the 125 finals. Senior teammate Victor Carazo followed suit by beating top-ranked Luke Rynish of Wisconsin-Parkside 8-3 in the finals. Rynish also finished second in 2011.
Grand Canyon and Findlay tied for third place with 58 points apiece.
Junior Mike Williams became the first national champion in UNC-Pembroke history when he beat Findlay’s Mason True 5-2 in the 165 finals.
Fourth-ranked Luke McPeek of Adams State pulled out a wild 14-12 win over top-ranked Dan Scanlan of Limestone in the 197 finals.
McPeek trailed 10-4 in the match before staging a furious rally as many in the crowd cheered him on. McPeek, 26, a senior, previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq.
McPeek was named Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament. Findlay’s Shawn Nelson was named coach of the year.
Ashland 197-pounder Joseph Brandt won the award for most falls in the least amount of time.
TOP 10 TEAMS
Nebraska-Kearney 107, St. Cloud State 95, Findlay 58, Grand Canyon 58, Newberry 46, Upper Iowa 45.5, Wisconsin-Parkside 45.5, Adams State 42.5, North Carolina-Pembroke 42.5, Augustana 41.5, Central Oklahoma 41.5.
1st – Kyle McCrite (Grand Canyon) dec. Cody Lensing (Augustana), 9-3
3rd – Dave Fogle (Pitt-Johnstown) dec. Ben Sergent (Findlay), 4-3
5th – Kenny Trumbetta (Seton Hill) dec. Joshua Kieffer (Indianapolis), 4-1
7th – David Demo (Minnesota State Mankato) dec. Garrett Evans (Ouachita Baptist University), 6-2
1st – Trevor Franklin (Upper Iowa) dec. Andy Pokorny (St. Cloud State), 3-2
3rd – Ryan Fillingame (Adams State) dec. Evan Yenolevich (Kutztown), 4-2
5th – Jason Jeremiason (Augustana) dec. Michael Magaha (Limestone), 4-1
7th – Justin Reinsma (Southwest Minnesota State) dec. Adli Edwards (Ashland), 6-2
1st – Dalton Jensen (Nebraska-Kearney) pinned William Young (Newberry), 4:18
3rd – Daniel Ownbey (North Carolina-Pembroke) dec. Chism Fink (Augustana), 3-2
5th – Casy Rowell (Central Oklahoma) 31-12 won by decision over Trevor Johnson (Mary), 3-2
7th – Tywan Claxton (King) dec. Aaron Smith (American International), 3-0
1st – Raufeon Stots (Nebraska-Kearney) dec. Keenan Hagerty (Maryville), 5-4
3rd – Bobby Ward (Grand Canyon) dec. Nathan Link (Pitt-Johnstown), 5-3
5th – Ky Corley (Central Oklahoma) dec. Ethan Swope (Gannon), 8-3
7th – Josh Hensley (Adams State) dec. Marc Hoff (Ashland), 13-5
1st – T.J. Hepburn (Nebraska-Kearney) pinned Jarrod Shaw (West Liberty), 2:17
3rd – Dillon Bera (Wisconsin-Parkside) dec. Taylor Knapp (Newberry), 5-2
5th – Bobby Williams (Ouachita Baptist) dec. Braden Turner (East Stroudsburg), 6-3
7th – Zachary Lundgren (Pitt-Johnstown) dec. Jeremy Bommarito (Limestone), 12-7
1st – Mike Williams (North Carolina-Pembroke) dec. Mason True (Findlay), 5-2
3rd – Tad Merritt (St. Cloud State) dec. Joey Wilson (Nebraska-Kearney), 3-0
5th – Taylor Nagel (Mary) dec. Matt Vandermeer (Lake Erie College), 7-2
7th – Cody Quinn (Minnesota State Mankato) dec. Chester Granard (Colorado Mesa University), 3-2
1st – Victor Carazo (Grand Canyon) dec. Luke Rynish (Wisconsin-Parkside), 8-3
3rd – Elliot Copeland (Western State College) dec. Shamus O`Grady (St. Cloud State), 10-5
5th – Michael Lybarger (Findlay) pinned Travis Sheehy (Newberry), 1:26
7th – Travis McKillop (Pitt-Johnstown) dec. Mark Fiala (Nebraska-Kearney), 7-0
1st – Derek Skala (St. Cloud State) dec. Adam Walters (Findlay), 9-3
3rd – Ross Brunkhardt (Nebraska-Kearney) dec. Tanner Keck (Central Oklahoma), 4-2
5th – Mitch Schultz (Upper Iowa) dec. Dallas Smith (Ouachita Baptist University), 10-5
7th – Nick Peterson (Colorado Mesa University) dec. Matt Gille (Wisconsin-Parkside), 3-1 OT
1st – Luke McPeek (Adams State) dec. Dan Scanlan (Limestone), 14-12
3rd – Eddie Ebewo (East Stroudsburg) dec. Lucas Munkelwitz (St. Cloud State), 7-5
5th – Charles Morgan (King) dec. Shane Nolan (North Carolina-Pembroke), 13-0
7th – Joseph Brandt (Ashland) pinned Celic Bell (Grand Canyon), 1:41
1st – Matthew Meuleners (Northern State) dec. Jake Kahnke (St. Cloud State), 3-1 OT
3rd – Jacob Southwick (Ashland) dec. Kevin Barrett (Nebraska-Kearney), 1-0
5th – Zach Rosol (Upper Iowa) dec. James Malechek (Wisconsin-Parkside), 7-1
7th – Jake Elkins (Newberry) 26-7 dec. J.D. Ramsey (West Liberty University), 8-3 OT