Moving Maverick(s)

Minnesota State-Mankato jumped into the rankings last week and followed it up with a 29-18 on home mats Thursday. The Mavericks (4-2), tied for 14th in the Division II Wrestling Coaches’ Poll, trailed Moorhead, 18-9, but got a pair of pins and technical fall by seventh-rated Adam Cooling at 174 pounds. Second-ranked Matt Mincey, a senior transfer from Division-I Minnesota, improved to 14-0 with a decision at 157 pounds for Mankato, who hosts DIII St. John’s (Minn.) on Jan. 21 and St. Olaf and Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Jan. 23.

Mincey won three state titles for Apple Valley High in Minnesota and won 43 matches in a Gopher uniform. With his eligibility expired, Mincey was coaching in Iowa and taking some on-line classes when he realized he still had a semester at the DII or NAIA level available.

“I had known a couple of guys who wrestled (at MSU-Mankato), and they had good things to say about it,” Mincey told the Mankato Free Press. “I visited and liked the coaches and the facilities and the campus so I thought this was the place to be.”

RELATED: Division II wrestling hub

Mankato head coach James Makovsky has 242 dual wins in 22-plus seasons running the program and knows Mincey could win the program’s 22nd individual NCAA title this March.

“Matt has been a really good addition for us,” Makovsky said. “Not just because of what he can do in a meet but because of what he brings to the wrestling room. He’s in there wrestling with (Corey) Abernathy, (Adam) Cooling and (Scott) VanDeLoo every day, and they’re all pushing each other to become better.”

The Mavericks won a national title in 1965 and 14 times have finished inside the top five at the NCAA meet. Makovsky’s group is part of perhaps the toughest region, Super Region III which includes Maryville, St. Cloud State, Lindenwood, Upper Iowa, McKendree, and Augustana (S.D.) among others.

In Kenosha

Second-ranked St. Cloud State (8-1) beat three top-20 opponents on Saturday at the Rangers Duals in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the biggest a 25-15 win over No. 6 Wisconsin-Parkside. Victories by Nick Becker (174), Montrail Johnson (184), and Josh Anthony (197) gave the hosts hope, but top-ranked heavyweight Austin Goergen’s first period pin closed the door.

Steve Costanzo’s other top-ranked man, 165-pound senior Clint Poster (23-1), moved his career record to 131-15 with a first period pin of fourth-ranked Nick Fishback. UWP was without the services of All-American 125-pounder Ronzell Darling, injured in the Rangers’ first dual of the day. UW-Parkside (7-2) sandwiched the loss to the Huskies with wins over No. 12 Tiffin and No. 14 Findlay.

Unranked Augustana (S.D.) had a strong showing, beating Tiffin, Findlay, No. 18 Indianapolis, and No. 19 McKendree (Ill.) to improve to 12-2 for the season. Only four DII squads ― Augustana, Upper Iowa, UNC-Pembroke, and Nebraska-Kearney ― have double-digit victories this season.

Tough sledding for Bronchos

Central Oklahoma's Zac D'Amico grabbed an overtime win over Connor Bolling of Nebraska on Jan. 14.
Central Oklahoma Athletics
Central Oklahoma's Zac D'Amico grabbed an overtime win over Connor Bolling of Nebraska on Jan. 14.
Central Oklahoma, winners of seven NCAA Division II championships, opened last week strong with a 19-18 victory over No. 10 Lindenwood (Mo.) on Tuesday. The Bronchos won just 4 of 10 bouts, but got pins by Josh Ailey (141) and Brock Warren (184), plus a major decision by Zac D’Amico (125). Two days later, UCO led No. 5 Nebraska-Kearney 15-12 with two matches left, before national champion Romero Cotton scored a fall and Luke Peterson earned a decision to give the hosts a 21-15 win. Head coach David James’s squad remained in Kearney for the Midwest Duals Saturday where No. 12 California Baptist and San Francisco State sent UCO home with a pair of losses. SFU and UCO tied at 16 with Criteria No. 2 (total points scored in individual matches) giving the Gators the victory.

”A disappointing day,” James said. “We didn’t wrestle with much intensity in either match and lost some tight matches that could have gone either way.  We’ve got to find a way to start winning those matches.”

UCO (5-5) finished 18th at the 2015 NCAA Championships, the lowest finish since the program joined DII in 1989; only three times since the 1989-90 season have the Bronchos finished outside the top 20 at a national tournament. The 7-9 dual record in 2014-15 was James’ first sub-.500 season as head coach in Edmond. UCO faces Newman (Kan.) in Wichita on Jan. 19 and hosts No. 3 Maryville in Edmond on Jan. 22.

Quick Hits

• Top-ranked Notre Dame College (Ohio) stays on home mats this week, welcoming Ashland (Ohio) on Jan. 20 and local rival and ninth-ranked Lake Erie College (Ohio) on Jan. 24. LEC beat NDC in last season’s dual meet.

• No. 7 Mercyhurst (Pa.) hammered No. 17 Wheeling Jesuit (W.V.), 30-10, on Jan. 15. Micheal Griffith (157), Francis Mizia (165), and August Mizia (174) blew open the dual with back-to-back pins and a technical fall. MU’s Willie Bohince beat Dustin Warner, 11-4, in a battle of All-Americans at 125 pounds.

• Fourth-ranked Pittsburgh-Johnstown (9-1) followed up a third place showing at the National Duals with a strong 27-13 win over No. 9 Lake Erie College (Ohio) on Jan. 15. Senior 184-pounder Travis McKillop improved to 23-0 with 14 pins; LEC cut UPJ’s lead to 15-10 before McKillop’s first period fall. UPJ is part of Super Region I with No. 1 NDC, meaning the 184-pound bracket will include career unbeaten Joey Davis and McKillop, the top two men at 184 pounds currently.

• Nebraska-Kearney hosted the Midwest Duals on Jan. 16. The Lopers beat Colorado State-Pueblo, Western State, and New Mexico Highlands to move to 10-2 for the season. No. 16 WSU went 2-1, beating No. 12 California Baptist and Northern State (N.D.). CBU went 3-1, taking out Central Oklahoma, Adams State, and New Mexico Highlands. Ft. Hays State (Kan.) went 4-0, edging San Francisco State and whipping No. 20 CSU-Pueblo, 37-15. The Tigers host UNK on Jan. 14.

• Kutztown (Pa.) had two nail-biters last week, beating Gannon (Pa.) 19-18, and East Stroudsburg, 22-20. KU’s sixth-ranked Matt Martoccio (15-3) beat Garrett Smith, 4-3, in final bout at 157 for the victory over Gannon, who led  18-16 after George McGuire scored a fall at 149 pounds. The Golden Bears host Mercyhurst on Jan. 23.