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.