By Mike Kirk
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 18) — Central Oklahoma’s hopes of taking the team title in the prestigious Midwest Classic were dealt what appeared to be a crippling blow before action even got underway Saturday morning in the toughest NCAA Division II wrestling tournament of the regular season.
Flu-like symptoms suffered overnight Friday shelved 133-pounder Tanner Cole and 157-pounder Ty Lucas, a pair of huge losses for the top-ranked Bronchos. The second-rated Cole would have been the No. 1 seed, while the fifth-ranked Lucas was set to be the No. 2 seed.
It was up to the remaining eight individuals to pick up the slack – and that’s exactly what happened.
UCO pushed five into the semifinals, has two others still alive in the consolations and surged into the lead after first-day action at Nicoson Hall on the University of Indianapolis campus. The Bronchos have 71.5 points, good for a 14.5-point lead over No. 9 Wisconsin-Parkside.
Colorado Mesa is third in the huge 42-team field that features 17 of the top-25 teams from the latest Division II rankings with 55.5 points, followed by McKendree (50.5). Final-day action begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday (Oklahoma time).
Making the semis for Central were 125 Paxton Rosen, 141 Nate Keim, 149 Brik Filippo, 184 Alex Kauffman and 197 Dalton Abney, while 174 Kalin Winkler and Hvy Braden Morgan are in the consolations. Only 165 Anthony DesVigne was eliminated after a long day that saw the Bronchos go 22-4 with 15 bonus-point wins.
“Our guys wrestled really hard today and put us in a good position,” head coach Todd Steidley said. “Obviously there’s still a long ways to go and we have a lot of big matches coming up, but I was really proud of the way we performed today.
“It’s tough losing two of your best guys before the tournament even starts. We picked up a bunch of bonus points and won some tough matches in the quarterfinals that we had to have.”
Rosen, ranked sixth nationally and seeding fourth in this tournament, had no trouble making the quarterfinals. The junior opened with a first-period fall, then followed with a 15-0 technical fall.
It was a tougher assignment in the quarters, but a first-period takedown was the difference as Rosen trimmed No. 7-ranked and fifth-seeded Isaiah DeLeCerda of Adams State. Rosen will face Colorado Mesa’s Dawson Collins in Sunday morning’s semifinals.
Keim also rolled into the quarters with little opposition. Ranked 10th and seeded fourth, the junior started with a 12-3 major decision before posting a 17-2 technical fall in the second round.
Awaiting in the quarters was Drury’s Peter Kuster for the fourth meeting of the season between the two old rivals. Keim prevailed 5-3 for his third win in those four matches, using a first-period takedown and third-period reverse to capture the victory.
Keim will face San Francisco State’s Joshua Fuentes in the semis.
The seventh-ranked and third-seeded Filippo racked up 32 points in his first two matches. The junior breezed to a 17-1 technical fall in the opener, then cruised to a 15-4 major decision.
Filippo finished off his dominating day with a 7-0 quarterfinal shutout of Belmont Abbey’s Tyler Pepe. He will take on Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s fifth-ranked and No. 2-seeded Jacob Ealy in the semifinals.
Kauffman, wrestling in place of injured national champion Heath Gray, quickly showed why he can be a force in his own right. The eighth-seeded junior needed little time in either of his first two matches, recording falls in 1:28 and 2:11.
Kauffman then pulled off a major upset in the quarters, knocking off top-seeded and No. 4-rated Anderson Salisbury of Colorado Mines 5-4. The match was tied 2-2 entering the final period, but Kauffman got an escape and takedown to move in front 5-2.
Salisbury was awarded a penalty point while also scoring an escape with 59 seconds left to make it 5-4, but Kauffman held on. He will meet Fort Hays State’s Martin Verhaeghe in Sunday’s semis.
The top-ranked and No. 1 seeded Abney was tested in a 5-2 opening-round win before warming up and notching a first-period fall in his next outing.
Abney followed with another overwhelming outing in the quarters, taking control early en route to a 9-1 major decision of Mary’s Matt Kaylor. Abney will go against Wisconsin-Parkside’s Rodsean Graham in the semis.
Morgan, seeded eighth, won his first two matches to make the quarters before suffering a close loss. The redshirt freshman never trailed in an 8-4 first-round win and followed with a dominating 15-0 technical fall before dropping a tough 5-3 decision to top-seeded and No. 3-ranked Weston Hunt of Colorado Mines.
Winkler bounced back from a tight 2-1 first-round loss to win four straight in staying alive for a high finish. The junior had a fall, two major decisions and an easy 9-2 victory in the consolation rounds.
DesVigne also lost in the first round. He came back with a technical fall in his first consolation match before being eliminated.
Championship First Round
125 – Paxton Rosen, UCO, pinned Antonio Margiotta, San Francisco State, 2:41.
141 – Nate Keim, UCO, major dec. John Carayiannis, Belmont Abbey, 12-3.
149 – Brik Filippo, UCO, tech. fall Caleb Condera, Maryville, 17-1.
165 – Colby Romjue, Seton Hill, pinned Anthony DesVigne, UCO, 5:19.
174 – Joseph Petrella, Gannon, dec. Kalin Winkler, UCO, 2-1.
184 – Alex Kauffman, UCO, pinned Will Frazier, Coker, 1:28.
197 – Dalton Abney, UCO, dec. Perry Rodenbeck, Colorado Mines, 5-2.
Hvy – Braden Morgan, UCO, dec. Joshua Trumble, Northern State, 8-4.
Championship Second Round
125 – Rosen, UCO, tech. fall Rylee Billings, King, 15-0.
141 – Keim, UCO, tech. fall Justin Wilcox, Ashland, 17-2.
149 – Filippo, UCO, major dec. Cody Thompson, Colorado Mines, 15-4.
184 – Kauffman, UCO, pinned Mark Trifelos, Findlay, 2:11.
197 – Abney, UCO, pinned Dakoda Rodger, Wisconsin-Parkside, 1:47.
Hvy – Morgan, UCO, tech. fall Michael Kramer, Lindenwood, 15-0.
125 – Rosen, UCO, dec. Isaiah DeLeCerda, Adams State, 2-1.
141 – Keim, UCO, dec. Peter Kuster, Drury, 5-3.
149 – Filippo, UCO, dec. Tyler Pepe, Belmont Abbey, 7-0.
184 – Kauffman, UCO, dec. Anderson Salisbury, Colorado Mines, 5-4.
197 – Abney, UCO, major dec. Matt Kaylor, Mary, 9-1.
Hvy – Weston Hunt, Colorado Mines, dec. Morgan, UCO, 5-3.
174 – Winkler, UCO, pinned Nicolas Smythe, Tiffin, 5:24.
Consolation First Round
165 – DesVigne, UCO, tech. fall Kweli Hernandez, San Francisco State, 16-0.
174 – Winkler, UCO, major dec. Ethan Smith, Drury, 11-3.
Consolation Second Round
165 – Nate Trepanier, Lindenwood, dec. DesVigne, UCO, 4-1.
174 – Winkler, UCO, dec. Jack Band, Lander, 9-2.
Consolation Third Round
174 – Winkler, UCO, major dec. Stephon Haliburton, Quincy, 12-1.