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Roger Moore | NCAA.com | February 12, 2017

Vikings honor Reitmeier; UW-P first GLVC champion

  The Vikings upset Upper Iowa by winning the three final matches of the dual.

Augustana (S.D.) head coach Jason Reitmeier entered the 2016-17 season needing two victories to surpass Paul Kendle’s school record of 154. Reitmeier’s group gave their head coach Nos. 154 and 155 back on Dec. 4, but the coach was not honored until last Sunday when Upper Iowa visited Sioux Falls.

“It just means that I’ve had a lot of great wrestlers in my program the last 14 years,” Reitmeier said. “You don’t get those kinds of wins without great athletes and great support from the administration and not to leave out the fans and my family who have done a lot, too. You don’t get those wins if you don’t have those people supporting you.”

The Vikings, now 11-5, needed some dramatics to give their coach win No. 164. Upper Iowa led 16-9 with three bouts remaining, but Aero Amo recorded a major decision at 184 pounds and Ben Goodwin (197) and Michael Lowman (285) each gutted out 3-1 sudden victory decisions for the 19-16 victory.

“When I was a freshman, sophomore I would get really nervous,” said Lowman, a senior who beat UIU’s Logan Hopp. “One of things I try and do now is block it out; I didn’t even know we were tied there at the end. I just went out there knowing I needed to do my job.”

Augustana faces Minnesota State-Moorhead and Minnesota State-Mankato this weekend. Top-ranked St. Cloud State visits the Vikings Feb. 16.

The inaugural champion

This season marked the first in regards to wrestling for the Great Lakes Valley Conference. The first league champion, Wisconsin-Parkside, improved to 13-2 overall and 6-0 in GLVC matches by beating Drury and Truman State by a combined 84-9 last weekend. The league includes UW-P, and nationally-ranked Maryville (Mo.), McKendree (Ill.), and Indianapolis, along with Drury and Truman State.

“It would be great to have more schools add the sport,” Ranger head coach Gregg Lewis said. “As an assistant coach at Parkside or a head coach at Parkside, we’ve never had a conference for wrestling. So I’m like, ‘Ah, what does it matter?’ People are talking, ‘Oh, it’s the greatest thing.’ I’m like, ‘Really, I don’t care.’ And now that we’ve had it, I think it’s great.

“It’s a lot more write-ups in the GLVC, we’re getting a lot more press, so I think that’s positive.”

UW-P started the season unranked but made believers out of many when they won the always-tough Midwest Classic and finished third at the NWCA National Duals.

“These guys have worked really hard, so it’s not a surprise the success that we’ve had,” Lewis said.

“A big part of that is our assistant coaches. They put a lot of time and effort (into it). They need to be recognized.”

Lewis is assisted by Craig Becker, Matt Gille, Jake Papke, and Nick Fishback. Another Becker, junior Nick, a 174-pounder who won an NCAA title in 2016, won his 59th straight match since transferring from Central Michigan. After going 41-0 as a sophomore, Becker is 18-0 entering the postseason. Becker is one of four Rangers ranked inside the top eight at their weight class – Montrail Johnson (16-0, 184), Ronzel Darling (26-3, 125), and James Lehman (30-3, 197). Johnson ranks No. 2 and Becker No. 6 in the latest NCAA Most Dominant Standings.

“To have two, three weeks of solid training training with no competition, you kind of get yourself healthy,” Lewis said. “You get yourself really focused. It’s kind of nice. I’m excited about it. It gives you the opportunity to work with guys on things they need to work on.”

Pueblo claims RMAC title; Waste, Jones win second titles

Colorado State-Pueblo outdistanced California Baptist by 16 points to claim top honors in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship last Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo. Thunderwolves 165-pounder JaCobi Jones won his second RMAC title, along with Baptist’s Jacob Waste, who won the 197-pound championship and was named Outstanding Wrestler.

“This championship is like the others, and like I’ve said before, it’s a stepping stone to the big show,” said Waste, a two-time All-American who is 20-3 in 2016-17. “The big difference for me between this year and last year is I’ve found myself having a lot more fun out there. I am really embracing these last couple of events I have as a senior.”

Waste’s teammates, sophomore Nick Feigener (24-2 at 184) and Daxton Gordon (149), also won titles.

One of Division II’s top pinners, Western State senior 125-pounder Ronald Wardleigh, had a pin in the finals. Freshman Payton Tawater of Colorado Mesa had a pair of pins on his way to 157-pound gold.

“I felt pretty solid, and I felt like I was able to dictate how the match was. I gave up a quick reversal, but I was able to comeback fairly dominantly so I feel pretty good about it,” said Tawater, now 28-7 for the season. “I came off the mat, and my coach said ‘hey Payton, did you know there are only two four-timers in the RMAC? I was one of them.’ It was kind of cool to hear that and hopefully I can follow in his footsteps.”

Tawater’s coach is Chuck Pipher, in his 10th year at Mesa.

Quick Hits

● Central Oklahoma finished the regular season 18-0 by beating Ft. Hays State, 30-9, last Sunday. The win included Greg Wilson’s victory over Jon Inman in a battle of two of Division II’s best 197-pounders. “I’m very happy for these kids,” said first-year UCO head coach Todd Steidley. “They deserve it. And they weren’t going to be denied that 18-0.”

● Top-ranked St. Cloud State outscored Minot State (S.D.) and Minnesota State-Mankato, 77-15, to improve to 14-1 for the season. The Huskies wrestle at Upper Iowa on Thursday night.

● Mercyhurst senior 165-pounder Francis Mizia leads the NCAA Most Dominant Standings. Mizia, who has eight pins and six technical falls, holds a slight lead over Wisconsin-Parkside’s Montrail Johnson and Gannon’s Carmine Ciotti. Tiffin heavyweight Garrett Gray is tops among pinners with Findlay 149-pounder Nik Goebel and his 10 technical falls best in DII.

● Sixteen teams in Division II have at least 10 dual victories this season with six in a super tough Super Region I. Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Shippensburg, and Wheeling Jesuit each have 12 dual victories, with Mercyhurst, LIU-Post, and Kutztown each with 10 as of Wednesday. Shippensburg has wrestled a DII high 25 duals in 2016-17. Dual No. 26 for SU is Thursday night against Kutztown.

● Maryville (Mo.) moved to 7-3 with a win over Lindenwood (Mo.) on Wednesday night. The Saints host the Lombardi Duals in St. Louis on Sunday. Head coach Mike Denney’s squad faces Truman State, Ouachita Baptist, and Notre Dame College (Ohio).