No Place Like Home For The Regionals

Junior Cole Sladek goes for the takedown in the title match in the regional meet. Sladek won the championship at 157 and was one of six Cobbers to earn a spot at nationals.
Junior Cole Sladek goes for the takedown in the title match in the regional meet. Sladek won the championship at 157 and was one of six Cobbers to earn a spot at nationals.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (2/25/17)---The NCAA West Regional came to Concordia for the first time ever and the home team didn't disappoint. Junior Cole Sladek won the region championship at 157 and led a group of six Cobber wrestlers who all qualified for the NCAA National Meet.

Concordia had all nine of its wrestlers place in the Top 5 of their weight class and went on to finish second in the final team standings. The Cobbers totaled 123.5 points which was 33.5 points ahead of the third-place team.

The second-place finish at the regional marks the fifth straight year that the Cobbers have finished second at the West Regional Meet. It is also the fifth consecutive season that Concordia has had at least six wrestlers qualify for nationals.

Sladek, who is ranked sixth in the nation, cruised to the title in the 157-lb weight class by posting a pair of bonus-point wins and not allowing an opponent to come within seven points.

Sladek started his title trek by recording a 22-6 technical fall in the quarterfinals. He then put up a 12-1 major decision win in the semifinals and capped his day with a 17-10 decision in the championship match.

Sladek has now won six straight matches and is 17-1 on the season. He earns his second straight trip to the national meet. Last year he went 1-2 at nationals.

The most dramatic of the six NCAA Meet qualfiers came at 174 where junior Jake Johnson lost in the quarterfinals in the last seconds to Austin Boniface of Augsburg. Johnson then rebounded to win three straight matches in the wrestlebacks only to have to face Boniface again in the third-place match which decided the final national qualifier for the weight class.

Johnson fell behind to Boniface in the first period and trailed in the second. He was close to being put on his back but then somehow managed to gain a reversal and then use that momentum to get Boniface's shoulders on the mat and earn the three count for the pin.

Johnson's four straight wins helps him earn his second consecutive trip to the national meet. He lost both of his bouts at the NCAA meet a year ago.

Concordia had two other wrestlers reach the championship match in their weight class. Senior Justice Davis at 285 and junior Ty Johnson at 149 both claimed victories in the semifinals to secure their spot at nationals.

Davis was the comeback story of the meet for the Cobbers. Due to an upper body injury he only had one competitive match in the month of February. Davis' showed little signs of rust as he used the home crowd's energy to roll to easy wins in the first three rounds. He scored a pin fall in his opening match and then kept his quarterfinal from mounting any sort of offense in the semifinals and won 2-0.

Davis then booked his ticket to La Crosse, Wis. by recording his second pin of the day in the semifinals. He lost a tough 6-1 decision in the title match to defending national champion Donny Longendyke of Augsburg.

It will be Davis' second trip to nationals in the past three seasons. He earned a spot in his sophomore season in 2015.

Johnson came away with a pin fall in his opener in the quarterfinals and then won 3-1 in the semifinals to gain his berth to the national meet. He was never able to get on the board in the championship bout and lost 4-0 to No.8-ranked Ryan Epps of Augsburg.

Johnson will be making his first trip to the NCAA National Meet.

A pair of Cobber lightweights will also be making their first trip to nationals.

Aaron Dick and Adam Presler punched their tickets to La Crosse via wins in the third-place match. Dick won his opening bout at 125 but then lost in the semifinals to weight-class champion Viktor Gliva of Augsburg. He then got a pin fall in the semifinals of the consolation bracket and went on to record a 10-1 major decision in the third-place match.

Presler recorded a pin fall in his opener at 141 then lost 7-4 in the semifinals. He posted a 7-4 decision in the semifinals of the wrestlebacks and went on to a 10-6 win in the third-place match.

Junior Ricky Briggs lost his opener, then won three straight but fell in the third-place bout and placed fourth at 184. Freshman Travis Deegan and junior Kody Van Den Eykel both lost in the quarterfinals, won two straight matches before losing in the consolation semifinals and then winning the fifth-place bout.

WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will have a two-week break before competing at the NCAA National Meet in La Crosse, Wis. on Mar. 10-11.          

NCAA WEST REGIONAL - PLACE WINNERS
125 – Aaron Dick – 3rd place
141 – Adam Presler – 3rd place
149 –Ty Johnson – 2nd place
157 – Cole Sladek – 1st place
165 – Travis Deegan – 5th place
174 – Jake Johnson – 3rd place
184 – Ricky Briggs – 4th place
197 – Kody Van Den Eykel – 5th place
285 – Justice Davis – 2nd place

FINAL NCAA WEST REGIONAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Augsburg College - 159.0
2. Concordia College-Moorhead - 123.5
3. St. Johns University (Minnesota) - 90.0
4. University Of Wisconsin-Platteville - 86.0
5. University Of Wisconsin-Eau Claire -   79.0
6. University Of Wisconsin-Oshkosh - 66.5
7. Concordia University Wisconsin -         66.0
8. Milwaukee School Of Engineering - 44.5
9. St. Olaf College - 19.5
10. Lakeland College - 14.5
11. Pacific University - 7.5