GALESBURG, Ill. -- Wabash posted three team victories, with its only loss coming against the nationally ranked NCAA Division II program from Upper Iowa, to finish second at the Ninth Annual Chuck Porter Duals at Knox on Saturday.
The Little Giants opened competition with a 57-0 win against Knox, followed by a 26-15 victory against Luther and a 33-9 win against North Central.
"The guys came out with a purpose today and performed extraordinarily well," Wabash head coach Brian Anderson said. "I am very proud of the way they rallied around each other all day and stepped up when needed. This performance should prove to be a great building block towards the National Duals next weekend in Iowa."
Robbie Carter started Wabash on its shutout victory against Knox, scoring a pin one minute into his 125-pound bout against Matt Sugai. After a forfeit for Allen Betts at 133 pounds, Pat Parham scored a 4-1 win against Esai Ponce at 141 pounds. Nick Bova received a forfeit at 149 pounds before Reece Lefever recorded a pin at the 1:54 mark of his 157-pound match versus Eric Vogel. Josh Sampson pinned 165-pounder Aaron Hoover for Knox at 2:02. Conner Lefever scored a 13-3 major victory in competition at 174 pounds against Greg Ventris. Freshman Riley Lefever picked up a pin 28 seconds in to his 184-pound match against Matt Surprenant. Austin O'Neal, competing in his final semester for the Little Giants, got a forfeit at 197 pounds. Ian Kelton closed out the match with a pin at 1:52 in his heavyweight contest against Joe Chirbas.
The Little Giants, ranked 10th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, faced 12th-ranked Luther in second round. The Norse scored a pair of pins in the opening rounds before Parham started the rally with a hard-fought 3-2 win against Dakota Gray at 141 pounds. Bova scored a 7-3 win against Cody Orr before Reece Lefever cut the team score to one point with his technical fall (18-3) against Blake Letney at 157 pounds.
Samspon gave Wabash the lead with an 8-3 victory at 165 pounds against fifth-ranked and 2013 NCAA national qualifier Garrett Bonte from Luther. Conner Lefever scored a 5-1 win against Jarid Groth at 174 pounds, while younger brother Riley Lefever pinned third-ranked Jayden DeVilbiss 5:23 into their 184-pound bout. O'Neal scored his first win on the mat with a 3-2 decision at 197 pounds against Nick Pearch for the 26-15 team victory. Heis back after an injury cost him a semester of competition earlier in his career.
"It felt great to be back on the mat battling with the team." O'Neal said. "It was even better seeing the enthusiasm that everyone mat-side brought for each and every match."
Bova echoed his coach's comments regarding the support of his teammates.
"Today was an amazing experience for me to compete in my first college varsity dual meet," Bova said. "This will always be one of the most memorable times I have at Wabash. It felt awesome being able to rally around my teammates as we beat the No. 12 team in the nation."
Tommy Poynter opened competition against North Central with a pin of Nick Santos at 3:32 in the 125-pound bout. Bova rallied for a 3-2 win at 149 pounds against Nathan Segal to put Wabash back in front in the team scoring after North Central took a pair of victories at 133 and 141 pounds. Reece Lefever eanred a 4-1 win against 157-pounder Josh Tardy. Sampson added a pin versus Alex Vosburgh 3:35 into their 165-pound bout. Conner and Riley Lefever each recorded pins. Fans might have missed Conner's win at 174 pounds if they blinked after he stuck Erik Kirkman to the mat in just 13 seconds. Riley only needed 1:13 to pin 184-pounder Vinnie Pizzo. O'Neal picked up the final team points with a 9-3 win at 197 pounds.
The three Lefever brothers scored the only points for Wabash against Upper Iowa as the Little Giants rested all but four starters against the DII powerhouse. Reece scored a 5-1 win at 157 pounds versus Zak Benitz. Conner picked up a 7-5 victory versus Colbey Vance at 174 pounds. Riley scored another win against a nationally-ranked opponent, this time earning a 7-6 decision against the third-ranked DII wrestler Blake Sorensen.