Keller gets first win as Wartburg's new boss

Wartburg College Sports Information

Eric Keller made his solo debut as Wartburg College's wrestling head coach Wednesday as the Knights thumped Simpson, 48-4, extending their Iowa Conference win streak to 166.

"I miss my partner by the water cooler," said Keller, who had been co-head coach with the legendary Jim Miller during Wartburg's run to a third consecutive NCAA Division III championship, its 10th overall, in 2012-13.

After Simpson forfeited at the opening weights, Wartburg racked up four pins and three major decisions with a young lineup in addition to former national champion Landon Williams and All-American Ryan Fank.

"We had a lot of young guys out there," Keller said. "I told them, 'Here's your opportunity. You have to make the most of it.'"

Wartburg freshman Jace Lopez (Greeley, Colo.), a former Colorado high school state champion, dominated Simpson senior Jeff Sand (Waukee) at 141 with a 7-0 opening period en route to a 15-3 major decision.

Knights' junior Mark Pinero (Saint Rose, La.) lost a major decision, 11-2, to Storm freshman Ryan Joint (Stuart, West Central Valley) at 149.

At 157, Wartburg sophomore Nick Michael (New Orleans Holy Cross) pinned Simpson's Jake Mize (Moville, Woodbury Central) at 3:57.

Brett Yankovic (Manchester, West Delaware), a Wartburg senior, followed with another pin at 1:13, quickly dispatching Shane Swank (Mount Ayr), a Storm freshman, at 165.

At 174, Wartburg senior Williams (Davenport Assumption) scored a major decision, 11-2, over Simpson sophomore Brett Roberts (Ottumwa).

Wartburg sophomore Gerald Roman (Haran, La.) then controlled Storm senior Taylor Witzel (Aurelia), for another major decision, 13-2, at 184.

Brit Bastow (Poway, Calif.), a Wartburg sophomore, made short work of Simpson's Mitch Stolzman (Good Thunder, Minn.), a freshman, pinning him at 1:09 in the 197-pound match.

Wartburg senior heavyweight Fank (Independence) then pinned Simpson freshman Colby Vlieger (Des Moines) at 4:25.

Simpson was coming off a 0-7 conference season a year ago, when the Knights went 19-0 overall.

"It's never going to be a matter of who you're wrestling," Keller said, "but what we're going to get done."

125 - WAR wins by forfeit. 133 - WAR wins by forfeit. 141 - Jace Lopez, WAR, major dec., Jeff Sand, 15-3. 149 - Ryan Joint, SIM, major dec., Mark Pinero, 11-2. 157 - Nick Michael, WAR, pinned Jake Mize, 3:57. 165 - Brett Yankovic, WAR, pinned Shane Swank, 1:13. 174 - Landon Williams, WAR, major dec., Brett Roberts, 11-2. 184 - Gerald Roman, WAR, major. dec., Taylor Witzel, 13-2. 197 - Brit Bastow, WAR, pinned Mitch Stoltzman, 1:09. 285 - Ryan Fank, WAR, pinned Colby Vlieger, 4:25.


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