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NCAA Division II Championships - First Round Update



The Division II National Championships in Greeley, Colorado didn't follow the script from the first match. Most wrestling prognosticators felt that three teams would be in a tight title chase. As the opening whistles sounded, it was apparent that a big time wrestling meet will always have its share of upsets. The opening match of the tournament featuring a returning national champion, Mark Dodgen, stunned the crowd of 2,800. Dodge, the #1 seed was thrown to his back late in the first period falling behind 4-0 to Lester Berrios of Minnesota State-Mankato. Berrios gave up an escape and two stalling calls, and nearly faltered in his upset bid when he narrowly avoided the takedown on the edge. Dodgen wrapped both ankles tightly low on the legs as Berrios fell out of bounds, the referee waved the whistles out of bounds and no points were awarded. Berrios held on to his tenuous 4-3 lead and escaped with the biggest upset of the first round. As Central Oklahoma's hopes for a high finish seemed to fade the action of the first round was barely beginning. But, Dodgen's loss was enough to put a smile on Mike Denney's face, Head Coach for the University of Nebraska-Omaha. While Dodgen was losing, Mack LaRock, UNO 125 pound wrestler, was recording the fastest fall of the day. LaRock threw in the legs and turned a power half into a :31 second pin over Victor Juarez of Wisconsin-Parkside. UNO took a tenuous three point lead after the first round in the team standings. However, UNO did lose one match and a key individual for their title quest. At 141 pounds, Roderick Ratcliff looke flat in giving up several key takedowns in a 7-2 loss handed to him by Jerod Timothy of Southern Colorado. Last year, Radcliff was a 6th place All-American at this weight class. And, for UNO to succeed in capturing the Division II Title Ratclif will surely need to respond in the wrestlebacks. The surprise of the tournament is the wrestlers of Minnesota-State Mankato. As coaches talked about what other teams could capture the title only South Dakota State and Ashland seemed to be repeatedly mentioned. But after the first the Mankato Mavericks had placed wrestled their way into second place with 11 points, only three points behind Nebraska-Omaha. Mankato State pulled two more major upsets besides Berrios' stunner. At 133 pounds, Adam Kramer garnered a 4-3 decision over the #4 seed Luke Shaw of Central Missouri. Then, in the next weight class at 141 pounds, Hannon Hisek was trailing late in the match. Hisek gave up back-points and his upset hopes seem to be fading, but a wild-scramble ensued as both wrestler nearly gained solid control with back points. But, Hisek came out on top and gained the fall at 5:18. Hisek's defeat of Stas Khaitin of Central Missouri sent the #4 seeded wrestler to the consolation bracket to pursue All-American status. Coach Jim Makovsky spoke of the difficult draws that Mankato State had with confidence of the challenge ahead, "If you want to be the best you're going to have to beat great wrestlers, our coaches felt that you can get the win against tough guys early in the tournament, it's starting to be clear that our wrestlers believed it." Clearly, the first round showed that no top seed was safe. At 141 pounds, Steve Bristle of SW State handed a 13-8 loss to the #2 seed, Marc Bullard of Findlay. Additionally, the first four #4 seeds lost their opening match. At 125 pounds, Matt Strawser, a sophomore with a 20-9 record, was defeated by Adam Mars, of Adams State. Strawser's loss hurt the chances of the defending National Champions North Dakota State University. North Dakota's States championship hopes clearly lie in the wrestle-backs as the Bison wrestlers went won four and loss 6 in the opening round. Also, at 149 pounds, Wes Reynolds knocked off the #4 seeded, Adrian Jiron of Western State, by an 8-3 decision. With so many upsets the team race was turned upside down. Two teams advanced six wrestlers in the championship bracket: UNO and a surprising Southern Colorado squad from down the road in Pueblo. Southern Colorado was only point out of second place with 10.5 pts, just behind Mankato State. North Dakota State was in 4th place with 10 points, but only advancing four wrestlers. Ashland and South Dakota State are in a tie for fifth place with 8.0 points. Ashland advanced 5 and sent three to the consolations, while SDSU advanced 5 with one heading to the consolation bracket. Central Oklahoma stinging from the opening loss of a returning National Champ holds 7th place with 6.5 points advancing five in the championship bracket with four in the consolations. In 8th place a three-way tie exists, Central Missouri has 6.0 points with five wrestlers advancing and 4 hoping to stay in the tournament tonight. Gannon also with 6.0 points advances three, with one wrestler losing, while West Liberty State completing the top ten advanced four while two failed to win their opening match. The chase for the Division II Title resumes at 5:30 p.m. with the Grand March. Wrestling gets underway again at 6:00 p.m. mountain time. In the championship bracket the Quarterfinals will be wrestled. In the consolation bracket the first and second round wrestle-backs will be contested. Stay tuned to TheMat.com for the coverage of Division II Championships.
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