March 14, 2010

By John Fey
Special to

OMAHA, Neb. - The storm warnings were sent out the day before the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships began.

Look out for Nebraska-Omaha, the opposing coaches said.

"For them not to win nationals, they'd have to have half their team wrestle terrible," Nebraska-Kearney coach Marc Bauer said at the pre-tournament press conference. "And something like that doesn't happen very often."

Jason Reitmeier, coach of third-ranked Augustana (S.D.) College said: "They've got to have some guys slip, and the rest of us have to compete at the highest level."

Well, Nebraska-Omaha did slip - but only during Saturday night's final round. The Mavericks won just one individual title out of five bouts but still ran away with the team title before the evening session began.

It was Nebraska-Omaha's fifth championship in the last seven years and second straight.

Newberry (S.C.) College coach Jason Valek pointed out that his team had two champions and six All-Americans at last year's national tournament and still lost to Nebraska-Omaha by 66 points.

It was even more one-sided at the 2010 meet. The Mavericks scored an amazing 131 points despite having just one individual champion - 285-pounder Elijah Madison. Augustana (S.D.) was second with 72 points.

Madison, after using riding time for a 1-0 win over Brady Wilson of Minnesota State at Mankato to end the tournament, said he fed off the enthusiasm of the partisan fans among the 2,174 who stayed to the end.

"I can't even explain how big the crowd was," he said, "especially for this tournament. I just used the crowd."
With only 133-pounder Cody Garcia and 197-pounder Jacob Marrs graduating, more storm alerts could be expected for the rest of Division II in 2010-11.

But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. At least that's what Nebraska-Kearney's coach said.

"We need teams like UNO way out in front of us," said Bauer, who wrestled for Mike Denney at Nebraska-Omaha. "It's good for us to have someone raise the bar."