Neb.-Kearney takes Super Regional IV
Antelopes win event for 10th time in 13 years behind strong finish
HAYS, Kan. -- Third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney had two champions, a runner-up and four third-place finishers to win the 2012 Super Regional IV (RMAC) Championship on Sunday.
The win marks the 10th time in the last 13 years the Lopers have won this event. Next year, UNK moves into the MIAA for wrestling and will also compete in a new region.
Individually, Kearney qualified eight for the Division II Championship March 9-10 in Pueblo, Colo. To reach the NCAA meet, a wrestler must finish in the top four at his regional meet.
UNK entered Sunday in second place, five points behind Grand Canyon. The Lopers basically sewed up its second consecutive team title thanks to third-place finishes by seniors Ross Brunkhardt (184 pounds) and Joey Wilson (165 pounds), sophomore Mark Fiala (174 pounds) and redshirt-freshman Kevin Barrett (285 pounds).
|4||Fort Hays State||92.5|
In the finals, the Lopers went 2-1 as senior Dalton Jensen (141 pounds) and T.J. Hepburn (157 pounds) rolled to first-place finishes while junior Raufeon Stots (149 pounds) rallied late but fell to GCU's Bobby Ward 4-3 in his championship bout.
The other Loper headed to Pueblo is redshirt-freshman Matt Lenagh, who placed fourth at 197 pounds. He secured his trip to nationals thanks to a 3-2 OT decision against Western State's Sam Mangum in the consolation semifinals.
UNK finished with 115.0 points, followed by the GCU (108.5), Adams State (97.5), Fort Hays State (92.5) and Colorado Mesa (86.0).
Jensen is now on a 16-match win streak after a 10-0 major decision against C.J. Napier of Hays. Ranked No. 1 in the nation, the win marked Jensen's second victory vs. Napier.
Hepburn also picked up his second RMAC/Region IV title as he majored Jon Gappmaier of Colorado Mesa 14-5. The now two-time RMAC Wrestler of the Year is 32-3 and has won 22 in a row.
Stots beat Ward earlier this year but Ward jumped out to a 3-0 lead this time. Stots used a reversal to close the gap but couldn't record a last-second takedown and lost for the first time since Jan. 25.
In the third-place matches, Brunkhardt got by Jordan Debus of Chadron State 3-1 after dominating Adam Carey of CSU-Pueblo 8-1. Wilson rebounded from a double OT loss on Saturday to slip by second-seed Sam Thoman of Hays 3-2 and then beat Justin Samora of Adams State 12-6 in the third-place bout.
At 174 pounds, Fiala also lived on the edge as he needed OT to get by Zak Slotten of Colorado Mesa 3-1 to reach the third-place bout. There, he beat Trevor Grant of Pueblo by another 3-1 score.
Barrett reached his third-place match with a 4-2 decision and need extra time to beat GCU's Jordan Johnson 3-1. The win marks Barrett's second against Johnson, an Iowa transfer.
Bauer, in his 13th season as Loper head coach, has now won the RMAC Coach of the Year honor nine times.