WAVERLY — Wartburg wrestling coach Eric Keller and his Augsburg counterpart, Jim Mousloff, could have mapped out every scenario imaginable before the second-ranked Knights hosted the top-ranked Auggies in the Battle of the Burgs Thursday at Levick Arena.
Honestly, these two coaches probably drew up their maps in the days and hours leading into this season’s most anticipated NCAA Division III dual. Once the action started, those blueprints were quickly tossed away.
Wartburg’s Kyle Fank scored a takedown with 10 seconds left to squeak out a decision at 197, and his teammate Lance Evans brought a capacity crowd to its feet with a 1 minute, 28 second pin of Ethan Hofsacker at heavyweight as the Knights roared from behind to pull out a 21-13 victory, avenging a 21-17 loss in the NWCA National Dual finals in January.
“You try to figure things out on paper and you can’t,” Wartburg head coach Eric Keller said. “That is the beauty of coming out here and wrestling. You never know what is going to happen.
“Obviously we are disappointed in a couple of weights that didn’t go our way, but the big picture was our guys fighting and I felt like at the national duals we didn’t have the fight we needed to have, and it was better tonight.”
The two long-time rivals split the first eight matches, but Augsburg led 13-12 when the dual turned to 197.
Arizona State transfer Lance Benick scored a takedown in each of the first and second periods and led, 4-3, over Fank after two.
It would look like that is how the match would finish as Fank couldn’t penetrate Benick’s defense. At least that was how it was playing out until the final 20 seconds, when Fank got to a leg, and worked his way to two with 10 seconds left to pull out a 5-4 win.
“It wasn’t the best match I’ve wrestled,” Fank said. “But I was like, okay, it is time to score. That is the only thing that was going through my head, ‘I got to get in on a leg and score.’
“Once I heard the crowd get loud, it was kind of motivation for me to get up on that leg and finish off. This is something you dream about. Being in a packed gym, the crowd behind your back. Getting a last-second score to win by a point, it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.”
Keller was pleased with Fank’s drive.
“That is heart. That is heart,” Keller said. “He wasn’t looking good and he had to find a way. It’s one of those things where you have a never give up mentality. You could see it in his eyes he was going to find a way. He dug deep and found a way and that is what it is about.”
Evans wasted little time against Hofsacker, scoring a takedown early and then flipping him to his back for the emphatic pin.
It was back-and-forth early. Each team saw an individual reverse a loss from the national duals to pull out, what at the time, was a momentum swinging victory.
Wartburg’s Brock Rathbun toppled Sam Bennyhoff, 9-6, at 133, a match he lost in Jan., 7-5.
“Just stayed focused,” Rathbun said. “Staying to my game plan and not going along with his. He wanted to get his ties, and I wanted to get my ties, but if I let him get to his ties he is going to score. So it was just sticking to my stuff.”
After the Knights’ Cross Cannone tied the match at 6-all with a 6-2 decision over Alex Wilson at 149, Augsburg stole the momentum back when third-ranked Ryan Epps upset top-ranked Logan Thomsen, 10-6, and top-ranked Lucas Jeske followed with a 13-2 win over Max Forsyth to put the Auggies up, 13-9.
But defending national champion Eric DeVos started a run of four consecutive wins for the Knights with a 9-4 victory over Tanner Vassar. Tyler Lutes then pulled Wartburg to within 13-12 with a 6-3 decision over Sebastian Larson in a battle of ranked wrestlers at 184.
“It was just outfighting everybody, holding the rope,” Rathbun said of dual win. “You outfight your guy and the next guy is going to go out and outfight his guy and it snowballs.
“This was great. It was an awesome atmosphere.”
In a preliminary match, Scott West of Minnesota defeated Waverly-Shell Rock, 39-17, in a prep dual featuring Top 10 schools from their respective states.
“We got to show a little more fight,” Go-Hawk head coach Eric Whitcome. “There are a lot of things we can work on between now and districts, but it’s got to be our guys out there wanting it more.”
WARTBURG 21, AUGSBURG 13
125 — Victor Gliva (Aug) dec. Brady Kyner 6-2, 133 — Brock Rathbun (Watt) dec. Sam Bennyoff 9-6, 141 — David Flynn (Aug) dec. Brenden Baker 9-3, 149 — Cross Cannone (Wart) dec. Alex Wilson 6-2, 157 — Ryan Epps (Aug) dec. Logan Thomsen 10-6, 165 — Lucas Jeske (Aug) major dec. Max Forsyth, 13-2, 174 — Eric DeVos (Wart) dec. Tanner Vassar 9-4, 184 — Tyler Lutes (Wart) dec. Sebastian Larson 6-3, 197 — Kyle Fank (Wart) dec. Lance Benick 5-4, Hwt. — Lance Evans (Wart) pinned Ethan Hofacker, 1:28. Offical: Curt Frost
SCOTT-WEST (Minn) 39, WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK 17
195 — Tyler Buesgens (SW) dec. Brayden Wolf 10-7, 220 — John Hilgers (SW) dec. Luke Walker 1-0, 285 — Andrew Snyder (WSR) dec. Calvin Menke 3-2 TB, 106 — Landon Church (SW) pinned Ethyn Chestnut, :37, 113 — Brady Benning (WSR) dec. Tory Pumper 5-2, 120 — Justin Stauffacher (SW) dec. Dylan Albrecht 5-2, 126 — Jackson Stauffacher (SC) dec. Evan Yant 7-2, 132 — Tyler Shackle (SW) pinned Andrew Schwab, 2:37, 138 — Jack Fogarty (SW) dec. Ian Heise 5-0, 145 — Dalton Woodyard (WSR) dec. Jeffery Kasper, 9-1, 152 — Jacob Hermann (WSR) dec. Trent Rasmussen 10-2, 160 — Bryson Hervol (WSR) dec. Jace Demmers 5-3, 170 — Jon Huss (SC) pinned Gavin Wedemeier, :38, 182 — Dylan Aslakson (SW) pinned Jentry Staack, 2:23. Referee — Eric Eckerman.