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A Scramble for the Title



A Scramble for the Title Midway through the quarterfinals at the Division II Wrestling Championships, it is an absolute scramble for the team title. Previous expectations had North Dakota State, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Central Oklahoma vying for the title. But the quarterfinals has brought its share of upsets and several teams have fought hard into the top tier of teams. No less than a half dozen schools have staked a claim to the top honors. Through the 141 pound weight Southern Colorado roared into the lead with 26.5 points followed by Central Oklahoma with 24.0 points. UNO took the third spot with 21.5 points. However, by the time the 157 pound weight was through two new teams had moved into one and two. South Dakota State caught fire and moved in front with 32.5 points. Pitt-Johnstown with only 5 qualifiers, moved into the second place position with 29.0 points. UNO remained in third with 28.5 points. The distance between first and sixth place was only 8.5 points. After the quarterfinals, SDSU had stretched its lead five points holding 47.5 points. UNO moved into second place with 42.5 points, but was only 2.5 points in front of NDSU. The second tier of teams was separated by only four points from fourth to sixth in the team standings. Southern Colorado was in fourth place, with 34 points; followed by Central Oklahom with 31 points, and Pittsburgh Johnstown with 30 points. Minnesota State Mankato a team that had shaken up the race earlier in the day slipped to 8th with 27.5 points. Minnesota-Mankato's Lester Berrios, who in the first round upset the #1 returning national champion, was able to achieve All-American status with a 3-1 victory over Jabbar Floyd from American International. Berrios will face an unseeded opponent in Adam Mars from Adams State in the semifinals. Mack LaRock of UNO advanced with a narrow 3-2 victory over Anthony Guillen of Western State. Southern Colorado's Brian Luna, the #1 seed, dismantled Benjamin Sprunger of Carson-Newman with a 17-4 victory. Luna will face Chris Shears of Ashland in the semis. On the opposite side of the bracket, Wes Watson of West Liberty pulled the 4-0 upset over Ricky Frausto of UNO. Frausto was sent to the consolation bracket to face NDSU wrestler Lucas Christianson in an important match for the team race. Watson's upset sends him to the semis against Cole Pronvince of Central Oklahoma the #3 seed. A Province victory in the semis may give the Bronchos a chance to move back in contention in the team race. At 141 pounds Paul Konechne of SDSU brought his team back in contention with a :32 fall over Cole Denison of Central Washington. Koneche will race the #5 seed, Zac Stratton of Western State. On the opposite side Jerod Timothy has moved into All-American status with an 8-0 decision over Steve Bristle of SW State. Meanwhile in the consolation Marc Bullard of Findlay who entered the tournament as the #2 seed was unable to beat Roderick Ratcliff of UNO in the wrestlebacks. Ratcliff's narrowly won this battle by scoring two duckunder takedowns at the end of the second period and then finally one with :02 seconds on the clock in the third for the come from behind victory. Ratcliff's victory has tremendous implications in the team race. At 149 pounds Gable Sullivan, last year's runner-up, will face the #5 seed in Joe Lloyd of Pitt-Johnstown. On the opposite side the #6 seeded, Nick Spencer of West Liberty upset Marshall Hahn, the #3 seeded wrestler from the host school of Northern Colorado. Spencer will face Aaron Veskrna of SDSU, giving the Jackrabbits another chance for critical team points with a potential semis victory. In the consolations, Paul Carlson of NDSU was unable to win for the Bison and was eliminated. Alan Cartwright, a three time All-American fought off Justin Willuweit of Nebraska-Kearney 3-2. Cartwright will face Matt Petsinger, the #1 seed and a prolific pinner from Minnesota-State. Petsinger has two falls in his first two matches, with 28 for the year. In a rarity, the #3 and #2 seed advanced to the semis at 157. Shad Benton of Pitt-Johnstown will face Lazaro Reinoso of Carson-Newman. South Dakota State wrestler Tyler Bryant narrowly defeated Shawn Silvis of Central Oklahoma to advance to the semis. Bryant the #1 seed will face Matt Ballard the #5 seed in the semis. On the bottom side, Dave Vondy of Western State, upset the #2 seeded Matt Gadient of Minnesota State-Mankato to advance. Vondy, an unseeded wrestler, will face Anthony Morgan of Carson-Newman the #3 seed. The only weight class to advance the top four seeds to the semis was 174 pounds. Maurice Wright of San Fran St. will face Todd Fuller of NDSU. On the bottom side, Zach Stalder of UNO narrowly avoided the upset bid of Matt Johnson of Central Missouri. Johnson trailing Stalder 4-2 in the third period chose top and proceeded to ride Stalder for the entire two minute period, garnering a stalling point and the match tying point with riding time. The two wrestlers went scoreless in the overtime and needed the sudden victory :30 tiebreaker to decide the match. Stalder received the choice and decided to try his hand at riding. In a wild 30 second tiebreaker Stalder rode Johnson out and advanced to the semis to face Mike Mitchell of American International the #2 seed. At 184 pounds, Steve Saxlund of NDSU majored Chris Canale of Ashland. Saxlund will face the #5 seeded John Rolling of Central Missouri after he defeated Scott Antoniak of UNO in double-overtime. Rolling was able to ride out Antoniak only moments after his teammate was unable to escape from Stalder of UNO at the previous weight. On the bottom side the #3 and #2 seeds will face off in the semis. Todd Paszek of SDSU will face Muhammed Lawal of Central Oklahoma. Chad Wallace the #1 seed for UNO advanced with an 8-4 decision. Wallace will face the #5 seed Kevin Boccella of Shippensburg. Doug Joseph of Gannon will face the #2 seed, Luke Wren of St. Cloud St. in the semis at 197 pounds. At heavyweight, Jon Madsen of SDSU, the #1 seed will face James Garvey of Augustana. Garvey pinned Todd Proper of Gannon in 1:56 to advance to the semis as the fifth seed. Josh Hendricks of Ashland pinned Dustin Darveaux of St. Cloud State in 4:07 to advance to the semis to face Nick Severson of NDSU.
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