March 7, 2009

Wartburg, Augsburg close one-two as part of upset-filled day one

The usual suspects put themselves at the top of the team leaderboard at the conclusion of wrestling from day one of the 2009 NCAA Division III Championships.

Second-ranked Wartburg scored 51.5 points in the second session to jet from a tie for third into first place with 64 points. Top-ranked Augsburg stands just behind their mat rivals with 61.5, setting up a sparkling Saturday of competition. UW-LaCrosse, Delaware Valley and Coe are tightly-packed from third through fifth with the Eagles sporting 46 points, the Aggies sitting with 43 points and a school-record five All-Americans, and the tri-host Kohawks coming in with 42.5 and a school-record six All-Americans. Wartburg and Augsburg each resumed impressive All-American streaks, with the Knights' seven upping a string of having five-or-more to 13 straight years and the Auggies' seven increasing the same format to 21 straight seasons.

Upsets were the order of the day throughout the individual brackets. It started at the lower weights with a fifth and sixth seed in the semifinals at 125, a No. 8 and a No. 6 still being alive at 133, an unseeded wrestler (Williams' Corey Paulish) competing in the semifinals at 141, another unseeded individual being alive at 157 (Ohio Northern's Luke Miller), an eight, six and five making their way into the semifinals at 174, a No. 7 moving into the round of four at 184, and a No. 8 seed working his way into the semifinals at 197.

Defending individual national champions Jacob Naig at 149 and Aaron Wernimont at 157 from Wartburg, and UW-LaCrosse heavyweight Dan Laurent are just two matches removed from making their repeat dreams come true. Naig, in a bracket which the four top seeds made it into the finals, faces third-seeded Paul LeBlanc of SUNY-Cortland, while Wernimont takes his 78-match win streak into the semifinals against Miller of ONU, who took down the fifth seed in the first round. Laurent will oppose Wartburg's John Helgerson in a bracket that saw the one, two, three and five seeds move into the semifinals.

Wrestling action resumes Saturday at 10 a.m.