Nebraska-Kearney did not finish well at the National Duals in January. The Lopers did win three matches, but fell to Pittsburgh-Johnston and Upper Iowa. Since, however, UNK has won eight straight, including a 31-9 rout of No. 10 Lindenwood (Mo.) last Saturday.
Top-ranked 133-pounder Daniel DeShazer edged No. 4 Hunter Haralson, 4-3; National champion Romero Cotton (197) picked up his 8th pin in 14 matches; All-American Keith Surber (141) had a pin; and Destin McCauley (149) had a major decision for a team that appears to be ready to make another run. Head coach Marc Bauer’s Lopers won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2012 and 2013.
“Things are starting to click a bit and the guys are feeding off each other,” Bauer said after the win over the Lions. “We got off to a quick start and then (125-pounder) Connor (Bolling) started it up right back again and we were rolling. When you get that momentum in a dual, it’s tough to stop.”
UNK finished second to St. Cloud State last March and runner-up to current No. 1 Notre Dame College (Ohio) in 2014. Since 2006, the Lopers have finished inside the top two at the national tournament seven times.
How competitive is DII?
The latest rankings show Notre Dame College (Ohio) as the No. 1 team with St. Cloud State, the defending NCAA champions, at No. 2. NDC, winners at the National Duals in January with victories over Maryville (Mo.) and SCSU are the only unbeaten in dual meets this season at 10-0.
Four squads – Pittsburgh-Johnstown (13-1), SCSU (14-1), Chadron State (14-1), and Upper Iowa (14-1) – have one loss with four – UNK (14-2), Wisconsin-Parkside (9-2), Colorado Mesa (9-2), and Newberry (14-2) – each checking in with two dual meet losses.
Preseason No. 1 Maryville (Mo.) is 4-3 and hosts its annual Dr. Mark Lombardi Maryville Duals this weekend where, a year ago, the Saints went 2-1 with a loss to NDC, who will be in Maryville this weekend.
Who wins the 2016 title in Sioux Falls, S.D., depends largely on performances at the four Super Region qualifiers Feb. 26-27.
RELATED: DII Power Rankings, Week 12
● Sixteenth-ranked Wheeling Jesuit (W.V.) gave No. 1 Notre Dame College (Ohio) all it could handle, winning four matches in a 24-15 Falcon win in Wheeling last Friday. All-American Dustin Warner (125), Dominick Nania (149), Dean Meyer (174), and Logan Bowman (285) each won for the hosts, but a major by Joey Davis (184), a technical fall by Garrett Lineberger (197), and a pin by Cobey Fehr (141) aided NDC’s cause.
● Pittsburgh-Johnstown continued to roll, blanking Millersville, 44-0, last Friday. The Mountain Cats (13-1) face Shippensburg on Tuesday and take on No. 7 Mercyhurst for Pennsylvania bragging rights on Saturday.
● An anticipated match between No. 2 St. Cloud State and No. 15 Minnesota State-Mankato was no match as the 2015 NCAA champs (14-1) routed the Vikings, 30-5, Saturday. Larry Bomstad’s upset of second-ranked Matt Mincey at 157 pounds highlighted the Husky effort. Heavyweight Austin Goergen and 165-pounder Clint Poster continued to roll; the two are a combined 55-2 this season.
● The Battle for the Sake Bottle was no match with sixth-ranked Wisconsin-Parkside routing DIII’s Wisconsin-Whitewater, 44-0, last Thursday night. UW-Whitewater won the last two meetings prior to the 2016 clash.
● Eighth-ranked Upper Iowa won 7 of 10 bouts in a 26-12 win over Augustana (S.D.) on Senior Day for the Peacocks (14-1). Damion Penichet (149), Jordan Rinken (157), Zak Benitz (165), and Colbey Vance (174) each won close matches, Vance in overtime to break open the dual meet for UIU, which visits No. 2 St. Cloud State this Thursday.
● Central Oklahoma (12-5) finished its regular season schedule with seven-straight wins, beating No. 19 CSU-Pueblo last Thursday and hammering Adams State (Colo.) on Friday night.
“It was a good way to finish up our dual scheduled and I’m proud of the way our guys have competed the last month,” UCO head coach David James said. “We’ve made a lot of progress and now it’s time to get ready for the most important part of our schedule.”
● California Baptist’s Brady Bersano had a big pin at 157 pounds and Joe Fagiano secured a 19-15 victory over Colorado-Mesa with a major decision in the final bout of a dual meet in Riverside. The Lancers finish the regular season 7-3 with two losses to DI teams (Stanford and Bakersfield), plus as RMAC champions. CBU heads to Gunnison, Colo., for the Super Region IV NCAA qualifier in two weeks.
● UNC-Pembroke ending a four-match losing streak with a 19-18 come-from-behind win at Coker College (S.C.) last Thursday. The Braves won the final four bouts, including Stuart Nadeau’s pin at 285 pounds. It started a busy weekend for UNC-Pembroke (14-7), who outscored Anderson (S.C.) and Emmanuel (Ga.), 79-15, in two wins Saturday and Ferrum (Va.), 31-9, on Sunday. Newberry (S.C.) wrestles at Pembroke this Thursday.
● Chadron State (Neb.) improved to 14-1 with a 53-0 shutout of Dakota Wesleyan on Sunday. The Mavericks wrestle at No. 11 Colorado Mesa on Friday and at No. 17 Western State on Saturday.
● No. 12 Lake Erie College routed Findlay, 33-9, on Saturday with Forrest Glogouski (125), Evan Rosborough (197), and Noah Hosking (285) each recording falls. The Storm (3-4) is at Tiffin this Thursday.