WAVERLY – Wartburg College junior Brennen Doebel has the poise of a wrestler who locks horns with a top-ranked defending national champion on a routine basis.
When the Knights’ 133-pounder surrendered the first takedown of Thursday night’s dual against Luther College, he did what he does best. Doebel recovered with a quick reversal and 1-minute, 13-second pin to ignite No. 3 Wartburg’s dominant 34-6 dual victory over the Norse in front of a crowd of 700.
“Being able to train with a national champ every day is just crazy,” said Doebel, who leads the Knights with 12 pins this season. “You’re never really nervous going out to wrestle a match because you’ve got the best guy in the country (Brock Rathbun) in your room.
“I got a little out of position, so I just had to do what I do best and that’s scramble my way out.”
Following Doebel’s bout, Wartburg went through five weight classes without surrendering another takedown until Luther’s Ira Kuehn worked a 6-1 decision over Isaiah Cox at 184. Heavyweight Keenan Feldpausch secured the only other Norse win, 8-2, over Bowen Wileman.
Wartburg (10-1, 3-0 American Rivers Conference) wrestled three sophomores and two freshmen en route to securing their 35th straight win in the series with Luther (7-5, 1-1). The Knights’ conference dual win streak now sits at 208.
Youth was on display for Wartburg.
Knights’ newcomer Brady Fritz flattened Kyle Clough and rode him out for the entire third period of a 2-0 decision at 141. Fellow freshman Zayren Terukina then fought off Gilbert Valadez’s single-leg takedown attempt and tripped him up at the end of the opening period before adding a third-period takedown en route to a 6-2 victory.
Defending national champion Cross Cannone racked up 14 first-period points at 157 and secured a quick 15-0 technical fall, matching Kyle Fank’s all-time Wartburg career record 30 tech falls.
Another leader who has emerged this season is No. 4-ranked sophomore Kyle Briggs. He dominated Luther’s Austin Hansen with a 18-3 technical fall. Hansen had won his previous six matches, three by fall, and placed fifth at the UNI Open with wins over two NCAA Division I wrestlers.
“It started last year,” Wartburg coach Eric Keller said of Briggs. “He was behind (Tyler) Lutes who was second in the country, and he never once took a backseat, never once had a mentality of I’ll wait till next year to be good. He stayed on the gas and trained every day like he was the guy last year. What you’re seeing right now is a result of that.
“As good as he’s wrestling right now, his ceiling is still high and he’s going to continue to get better.”
Similar to Doebel, Wartburg sophomore Trevor Walton competes in a competitive weight class that includes No. 10-ranked Kobe Woods. Walton fought through a late scramble for a takedown and 5-3 decision over Hunter Weaver with two seconds remaining in the first sudden-victory period of the 197-pound match.
“We go knowing that we’re going to learn from someone better, we’re going to wrestle better kids which is going to make us better,” Walton said, addressing the competition in his room. “I think that’s why we’re a good program.”
Searching for consistency throughout the lineup, Keller realizes there’s still plenty of room for growth. The Knights competed Thursday in their first event since recovering from an 18-17 loss in the semifinals of the NWCA National Duals to defeat Wabash, 27-13, for third place.
“Something we talked about after that loss is the whole nation is going to pay attention to how we respond right now, who are we,” Keller related. “I thought they did a good job stepping up against a very good Wabash team in the third place match. It showed us a lot of things about where we’re at right now, what we’ve got to get better at. We learned a lot from that weekend.”
Contentment is one word you can’t associate with this wrestling dynasty.
“We’re still going through some young guy mistakes that we’ve got to continue in a hurry to fix,” Keller added.
REMEMBERING JACE: Wartburg assistant coach Chris Smith spoke at the break during the dual, honoring the memory of his son, Jace, who passed away from mitochondrial disease. Green shirts were auctioned off and the Knights wore black and green singlets to help raise awareness.
Wartburg 34, Luther 6
125 – Brady Kyner (Wartburg) won by forfeit, 133 – Brennen Doebel (Wartburg) pinned Sam Camacho, 1:13, 141 – Brady Fritz (Wartburg) dec. Kyle Clough, 2-0, 149 – Zayren Terukina dec. Gilbert Valadez, 6-2, 157 – Cross Cannone (Wartburg) tech fall over Michael Petersen, 15-0, 3:06, 165 – Derek Lee Loy (Wartburg) dec. Michael Suarez, 10-4, 174 – Kyle Briggs (Wartburg) tech fall over Austin Hansen, 18-3, 6:29, 184 – Ira Kuehn (Luther) dec. Isaiah Cox, 6-1, 197 – Trevor Walton (Wartburg) dec. Hunter Weaver, 5-3, SV-1, 285 – Keenan Feldpausch (Luther) dec. Bowen Wileman, 8-2.