Lindenwood University in Missouri has been competing in Division II circles for a short time. The former NAIA power made the move in 2013 and in their first NCAA DII Championship appearance finished seventh. A national champion for LU in 2003, head coach Chad Smith has the Lions off to a good start this season.
Over the weekend, LU, ranked 12th in the last DII poll, traveled to Indianapolis and beat No. 16 Indianapolis, 22-19, and DIII Olivet (Mich.), 26-15. Against the host Greyhounds, Jared Mestas pinned UI’s Justin Kieffer at 141 pounds and 2015 NCAA runner-up Terrell Wilbourn had a 19-5 major decision. An injury default at 165 pounds also aided the Lions, who capped a strong first semester that included plenty of Open tournament accolades.
At the Central Missouri Open in early November, Danny Swan (125), Dillon Archer (197), Batchka Zulkuu (174), and David Hamil (184) each won titles with Hamil, a freshman, earning Outstanding Wrestler honors. A week later at the Kaufman-Brand Open, Hamil, Swan, and Wilbourn claimed top honors. The Joe Parisi Open saw Swan, a freshman from Oak Forest, Ill., and Kyle Jolas (165) win gold and December opened with Hunter Haralson, a sophomore from Lawrence, Kan., claiming the top prize at 133 pounds at the Wisconsin Open. Wilbourn, a senior, is the best of the bunch. The St. Louis native won an NJCAA title for Iowa Central before transferring to LU, losing to Frank Cagnina in the 149-pound NCAA final last March. Listed at 165 pounds on the roster, but ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds in the Basford DII Rankings, where Wilbourn ends up remains to be seen.
DII circles might not know just how good Lindenwood is until February when the Lions face Nebraska-Kearney and Maryville (Mo.) in back-to-back dual meets.
Kelly to lead new Ohio program
Longtime Anderson (S.C.) head coach Dock Kelly resigned last week and accepted the challenge and running a new program at Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio. Lourdes will compete in NAIA beginning with the 2016-17 season. Kelly, an inductee into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1997 as a Medal of Courage recipient, coached Anderson for 15 seasons, had 17 Division II national qualifiers, four All-Americans, and a national champion.
“Overall, Ohio is undoubtedly a top-three wrestling state, and I am as motivated as ever to begin the process of recruiting a team to compete in the 2016-17 season,” Kelly said. “My family and I are also looking forward to moving to the Midwest, and I am honored to be joining Grey Wolf Nation.
“This has been an incredible 15 and a half year experience. We achieved every goal that we set out to accomplish. I am grateful to every student-athlete that I was blessed to coach along this journey. My time at Anderson University has prepared me for the next challenge that awaits me in Ohio. I look forward to this next chapter in my coaching career.”
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Where do you stand?
Consider the 37th Annual Midwest Classic in Indianapolis this Saturday and Sunday a good preview to what lies ahead second semester. Not all the big dogs will be there, but No. 1 Maryville (Mo.) leads a field that includes six top 12 squads ― No. 6 Lake Erie College (Ohio), No. 7 Pittsburgh-Johnstown, No. 8 Findlay (Ohio), No. 9 Newberry, and No. 11 Augustana (S.D.) ― that are expected to be in attendance. Maryville edged McKendree (Ill.) for the 2014 title in a 29-team, DII-heavy field.
The Brothers Kieffer
Indianapolis hosted the Greyhound Duals on Saturday, dropping a close match to Lindenwood, but beating DIII Olivet (Mich.), 30-15. Already staples in the Greyhound lineup, twin brothers Josh and Justin Kieffer suited up in the win over Olivet ― Josh is a two-time All-American and Justin is a two-time NCAA qualifier. They were joined by a third Kieffer, Joe, who wrestled at 133 pounds and dropped a 9-6 match to Jared Brickley. It was not long ago when Joe was battling a different opponent. Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia before his senior season of high school, Joe Kieffer was not able to finish his prep career. The Indianapolis program dedicated the 2012-13 season to “Pinning down leukemia” with money raised from every Greyhound pin and also for every time one of head coach Jason Warthan’s wrestlers was on the receiving end of a pin. Joe Kieffer, already a student, rejoined the Greyhound wrestling team prior to the 2015-16 campaign.
Up and running
Last March the Northern State (N.D.) wrestling program went away. With a little help from the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) the program was reinstated in April with Rocky Burnett, a high school coach at Aberdeen High taking over operations. Junior 197-pounder Joe Gomez, an All-American last season, and 149-pounder Tyler Stenberg, lead a smallish 15-man roster that improved to 4-3 for the season with a victory over Jamestown(N.D.) on Sunday night. Gomez scored a fall at 285 pounds against the Jimmies.
RELATED: DII Wrestling Coaches Poll
Maryville heavyweight Donnell Walker won four matches at the Northern Iowa Open, including a victory over Northern Iowa’s JJ Everard in the finals.
No. 2 St. Cloud State whipped DIII No. 19 Concordia-Morehead (Minn.), 39-3, last Wednesday. On Saturday, head coach Steve Costanzo’s group had eight champions at the Holiday Inn Husky Open.
Nebraska-Kearney 141-pounder Keith Surber had three pins and a technical fall at Saturday’s Loper Open. The sophomore wrestled a combined :58 in his first two matches, picking up an 11-second pin in the second round. Surber’s teammate, Destin McCauley, picked up a nice 7-6 win over Nebraska’s Justin Arthur in the 149-pound final.
No. 4 Mercyhurst (Pa.) hammered West Liberty (W.V.), 40-4. The Lakers host Seton Hill (Pa.) Wednesday night.
No. 7 Pittsburgh-Johnstown beat No. 19 Ashland, 28-13, last Thursday. UPJ 184-pounder Travis McKillop picked up his ninth pin in 13 wins this season. The senior flattened seventh-ranked Brandon O’Neill in 1:52.
No. 11 Augustana (S.D.) routed Morningside and Northwestern, two Iowa schools, and Truman State (Mo.) by a combined 115-15 on Saturday. Viking 184-pounder Areo Amo had pins of :15 and :35.
Southwest Missouri State dropped a 31-11 dual to 2015 DIII national champion Augsburg College last Thursday. It was the Augies’ 23rd-straight victory over the Mustangs dating back to the 1987-88 season.
Upper Iowa beat Mary (N.D.), 35-9, on Friday night, then picked up five pins in a 39-9 victory at Minot State (N.D.) on Saturday. Peacock 125-pounder Garrett Wangsness improved to 14-2 with pins in both duals.
Ashland (Ohio) redshirt Michael Labry had wins over four DI opponents at the Cleveland State Open on Saturday. Labry, who lost to UNK’s Daniel DeShazer in the 133-pound DII final last March, fell to Lock Haven’s Ronald Perry in the 141-pound final. Notre Dame College’s Garrett Lineberger advanced to the semifinals at 197 pounds, beating Cleveland State’s Sam Wheeler in quarterfinals. Another Falcon, rookie 133-pounder David Bavery, from Masillion, Ohio, won four of five matches and took fifth.