By UIU Athletics

Upper Iowa placed third as a team at the NCAA Division II Super Regional Championship in Sioux Falls, S.D. and qualified six individuals for the NCAA Championships on Mar. 11-12 right back in Sioux Falls at the Denny Sanford Premiere Center.

The Peacocks had eight of their ten wrestlers place fifth or better at the regional qualifying three for the NCAA Championships through true fourth-place matches. UIU won three of the four true fourth-place matches they competed in.

1. Maryville 151.5
2. St. Cloud State 145.5
3. Upper Iowa 97.0
4. McKendree 79.0
5. Minnesota State 78.5
6. Lindenwood 74.0
7. Southwest Minnesota State 39.5
8. Northern State 37.5
9. Augustana 36.0
10. Ouachita Baptist 25.5
11. MSU Moorhead 25.0
12. U-Mary 23.5
13. Central Missouri 12.0
14. Truman State 9.0
15. Minot State 2.5

Maleek Williams punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships with a championship semifinal win over Lindenwood’s Danny Swan. Williams posted a 13-3 major decision to earn a shot at the regional title thanks to three takedowns, a reversal and a pair of two-point nearfalls.

Williams toed the line against Brett Velasquez of St. Cloud State in the title bout. After a nearly scoreless first period, the action went wild in the final 20 seconds. After Velasquez scored a takedown, Williams got a reversal and four nearfall points as time ran out to lead 6-2. Velasquez escaped in the second and later added a takedown to cut the gap to one, 6-5. An escape by Willaims put the margin back to two, 7-5, but the match evened up when Velasquez got another takedown. Williams escaped again, but Velasquez kept the heat on and scored another takedown. A restart with three seconds allowed Williams one last chance and he took advantage with a quick escape to send the match to overtime tied at 9-9. A reversal in the first tiebreaker period by Velasquez gave the SCSU wrestler an 11-9 lead that held through the end of the match locking Williams in as the Super Region 3 Runner-up.

Matt Paulus lost his championship semifinal match to Blake Bosch of MSU Moorhead by decision 11-6, but bounced back with a win by fall (1:27) in the consolation semifinals over Jarred Oftedahl of St. Cloud State. With the win, Paulus earned the right to battle for third place at 133 pounds. In the third place match, NaQuan Hardy of McKendree scored an early takedown, but Paulus escaped and got a takedown of his own to take a 3-2 lead. Hardy got another takedown, but Paulus once again made his way out to tie the bout 4-4 heading into the second period. The match remained tied at 6-6 after Paulus got a takedown, but was reversed by Hardy. Hardy scored the next six points with an escape, a takedown, two nearfall points and a ride time point to win the match 12-6. Despite the loss, Paulus placed fourth and earned a trip back to Sioux Falls in two weeks for the NCAA Championships.

Jordan Roths won his third round consolation match by decision 3-2 thanks to a late takedown overf Rudy Guillen of U-Mary, but lost in the consolation semis to Darren Wynn of McKendree (15-4). The loss dropped Roths into the fifth place match where he lined up against Alphonso Vruno of Minnesota State. Roths scratched the scoreboard first with a takedown in the first period; Vruno escaped and cut the UIU lead to 2-1 heading into the second frame. An escpae in the second period for Roths and in the third period for Vruno kept the margin at one, 3-2, but a takedown by Vruno put the Maverick ahead by one. Roths tied the match at 4-4 with an escape and the contest moved to overtime. A takedown by Roths with just 11 seconds to go in the sudden victory period earned the redshirt junior the win and a true fourth place match against Matt Nelson of St. Cloud State. Nelson got out to an early lead with a takedown, two nearfall points and a penalty point to lead 5-1. An escape early in the second gave Nelson a 6-1 lead and he padded his lead with a takedown and four nearfall points. Roths got a takedown in the third, but dropped the match by major decision 15-4 finishing fifth at the regional.

Damian Penichet scored his second pin (2:19) of the championships in his consolation third round match against Isaac Novacek of MSU Moorhead. Mech Spraggins of McKendree used a takedown and four nearfall points on the edge of the circle to take an early lead and then maintained it for a 7-1 win in the consolation semis. In his fifth place match against Daniel Close of Minnesota State, Penichet scored a takedown and four nearfall points in the first period to take an early 6-0 lead. He built the lead 9-0 with an escape and a takedown in the second period. Another escape, takedown and a ride time point gave Penichet an 11-0 major decision win and a shot at Tyler Stenberg of Northern State in a true fourth place match. Stenberg scored a takedown, but Penichet escaped quickly. The redshirt freshman scored a takedown late in the second period after Stenberg escaped to begin the frame taking a 3-3 tie into the final period. Penichet got an escape and a takedown in the third period to push his lead to 6-3. A final ride time point provided Penichet with the four-point win, 7-3, and a ticket to come back to Sioux Falls in two weeks for the NCAA Championships.

Jordan Rinken earned a shot at third place with after a pair of wins to open his work on Sunday. Rinken scored a 2-0 decision over Sawyer Smith of Ouachita Baptist thanks to a takedown just 7 seconds into the first round. In the consolation semis, Rinken was winning 7-0 prior to Marcus Polak of Minot State being disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rinken forfeited his third place match against Greg Hegarty setting up a true fourth place match against of Blake Perryman of Northern State. Rinken dominated his true fourth match scoring an early takedown and adding a pair of four-point nearfalls and a two-point nearfall to win by tech fall, 16-0, in 2:44 and secure his spot at the 2016 NCAA Championships.

Zak Benitz posted a 2-1 decision over Kegen Fingalsen of Southwest Minnesota State; the difference in the match was a second stall warning on the Mustang wrestler in the second period as each man only scored an escape. Benitz lost a hard fought 3-2 decision to Dimitri Willis of Maryville in the consolation semis; the Bulldog grappler scored a takedown in the final period to secure the win. Benitz matched up against Allan Person of Central Missouri in the fifth place match at 165 pounds. Benitz led 5-2 before picking up a win by fall (6:57) with just three seconds to go in the match. The win set up a true fourth place match with Qian`te Wagner of McKendree. After a scoreless first period, Wagner got an escape in the second and carried his 1-0 lead into the final frame. Benitz escaped quickly to tie the match and send it to overtime where he scored a takedown just six seconds into sudden victory to get the 3-1 win and make his reservations for the NCAA Championships.

Colbey Vance lost his first match of the day to end his run at the regionals. UIU’s 174-pounder lost a 7-4 decision to Tim Weber of Augustana to finish his redshirt junior season with a 26-10 mark.

Dalton Westerlund got caught near the end of the first period in the championship semifinals against Aero Amo of Augustana. The Viking wrestler converted a shot into nearfall points and an eventual pin with just one second left in the opening frame. Westerlund dropped his consolation semifinal match to Scott Van De Loo of Minnesota State 4-2 thanks to a takedown by the Maverick wrestler in the second sudden victory period. The redshirt junior then met O’dell Lee of Ouachita Baptist in the fifth place match. Lee was the first to score with a takedown and two nearfall points in the first period, but late in the frame Westerlund was able to get a reversal and four nearfall points to take a 6-4 lead into the second period. Lee quickly tied the match 6-6 with a takedown, but Westerlund escaped to hold onto a slim 7-6 lead heading into the final period. After a second reversal, Westerlund improved on his lead, 9-6, and held on for a 9-8 victory to finish fifth in the region.

Ryan Parmely earned a shot at third place at 197 pounds with a pair of wins in the consolation third round and semifinal matches. Parmely scored a takedown with just 11 seconds to go in the sudden victory period to win 3-1 over Samuel Reeves of Truman State and then backed it up with a 3-2 decision over V.J. Giulio of St. Cloud State. A takedown in the third period gave UIU’s true freshman the win and set up a match against Dillon Archer of Lindenwood; Archer defeated Parmely 8-6 in the championship quarterfinals on Saturday. Parmely came out aggressive and scored a pair of quick takedowns to take a 4-2 lead, but got caught by Archer. The Lion wrestler registered a pin at 1:48, but Parmely earned his first trip to the NCAA Championships with his fourth place finish.

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle