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COLLEGE UPDATE FOR JANUARY 17: Heavyweights bring down foes, bring home titles

By Jason Bryant

He's the nation's most dominating heavyweight in Div. I, and on Sunday at the UNI-Dome on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Minnesota's Cole Konrad again put the shoulder of his opponent to the mat and raised his arms in victory.

It wasn't the same dramatic effect as his fall over Oklahoma State's Steve Mocco a year ago, and Missouri's Tyler Perry is still a green-around-the-gills freshman, but the end result netted the same thing for J Robinson and his Golden Gophers, a championship at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals.

Just like last year, the Gophers found themselves ranked No. 2 coming into the event in snow-covered Iowa. And just like last year, they took down the No. 1 team with Konrad scoring the winning match.

But Minnesota was expected to be the team to beat this year - until an early season slip up to Hofstra at the Northeast Duals. Oklahoma State assumed the #1 ranking before the Gophers knocked them from the lofty perch and then another Big 12 team - Missouri - climbed atop the polls for the first time.

Many questioned if the Tigers were, in fact, for real. A championship over Minnesota at the Southern Scuffle validated the ranking, at least temporarily. As fans are quick to point out, both teams were without wrestlers they expected to be competing at The Palace of Auburn Hills come March.

Now, with three-quarters of those missing wrestlers from the Southern Scuffle in the lineup (only Mack Reiter is still out), Missouri and Minnesota bulled their way into the finals of the National Duals.

On paper, Minnesota was still the favorite, especially with the return of C.P. Schlatter to the line-up. The Gopher junior looked solid, but had to mount a comeback in the crucial final, scoring three takedowns in the third period to edge much-improved Michael Chandler of Missouri. Minnesota took bonus wins at 125 and 141 and decisions at 149 and 157 before Tigers coach Brian Smith looked to his bench.

Capable redshirt freshman Nick Marable performed well in an understudy role to Matt Pell at the Southern Scuffle, finishing third and Smith elected to move him in at 165, and it paid off with a victory over Jeremy Larson. Now Pell would move up to face Gabe Dretsch, and he too came up with a decision.

When Marable first entered the lineup, the fans at the UNI-Dome started to scurry, they knew what was next.

Bumping up isn't uncommon in wrestling, as everyone knows, but what is rare is the moment one All-American moves up a weight to face another - and the stakes are higher when it's two returning finalists, one of which, Ben Askren, is a returning champ.

Askren topped Roger Kish of Minnesota at 184 pounds, but didn't get bonus points, which he and many Tiger faithful had hoped. Kish dwarfed the smaller Askren and didn't play into the scrambling hands of the nation's most feared pinner.

Younger brother Max Askren also needed bonus points for the team, but credit goes to Minnesota true freshman Brent Eidenschink for putting up a solid fight, keeping the match close and grinding out on top.

With the dual coming down to the last match and Konrad needing a fall, Perry stepped in with just a handful of matches under his belt and even less matches in the starting lineup.

Konrad's quick fall was big, but seemingly anti-climactic as opposed to last season.

Over in Division II, it was similar, as teacher against student panned out with Nebraska-Omaha falling to rival Nebraska-Kearney.

Omaha, coached by resident dean of wrestling Mike Denney, would take on one of his former wrestlers, Mark Bauer, the head coach at Kearney. The proverbial ace-in-the-hole came in the form of the nation's best Division II heavyweight, Tervel Dlagnev.

Needing a fall to eke out a one-point victory, Dlagnev didn't disappoint, pinning Tony Lewis in the first period to give the Lopers their first National Duals crown.

In Division III, it was more of the same, or if you prefer, history repeating itself.

There was no final bout drama, just two rivals squaring off for the sixth consecutive year in the National Duals finals. This time, the title went to Augsburg with a 22-10 victory over Wartburg, last year's team champion.

With only two matches going to bonus points (one for each team), Augsburg won the first seven weights to take a commanding 22-0 lead before the Knights closed out the dual with three wins of their own.

Marcus LeVesseur's return has been completely solid and he bested Jason Knipp 5-1 at 165 pounds in the final.

Lindenwood picked up the NAIA crown, stopping Dana College's bid for back-to-back crowns. Dana was seeded sixth, but knocked off third-seeded William Penn and second-seeded Embry-Riddle to reach the final.

Dana climbed back into the match after Wade Jordan picked up an injury default, but hopes of at least a draw were dashed when Lindenwood's Lance Shunia topped Jesse Boggs 6-4 to give the Lions and coach Joe Parisi the crown.

The only Iowa school to claim a championship was Iowa Central in the NJCAA Division. The Tritons topped Labette 25-12, while the women's mini-tournament saw the University of the Cumberlands take home the title after defeating Missouri Valley College.

Down South
The National Duals weren't the only major event taking place over the weekend as the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va., played host to the 27th annual Virginia Duals. With 10 mats in six divisions wrestling across the two-days, the 75-degree weather was quite a change for some squads.

Edinboro knocked off former EWL-rival Penn State in a thrilling 19-17 dual. Edinboro's Pat Bradshaw fought off his back against returning NCAA runner-up Phil Davis at 197 pounds and ended up giving up the major instead of the fall, which at that juncture became a huge difference.

The Fighting Scots (12-1) avenged their only defeat in the past two seasons and wins by true freshman Daryl Cocozzo and returning All-American Deonte Penn swung matches in the other direction this time around. The two teams had met earlier this year at the PA State Duals.

Penn State rolled into the finals, dispensing Rider 41-0, while Edinboro battled a solid Kent State team and picked up a 24-12 win over the then-22nd ranked Golden Flashes.

Jim Andrassy's team finished third, topping Old Dominion 21-14 in Saturday's consolation final.

South Dakota State topped the Newport News Apprentice School 31-7 in the American Division final.
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