Augsburg goes 10-for-10 in first session, leads team race at NCAA DIII Championships

ROANOKE, Va. -- With one of its most dominating single-round performances in recent history, the Augsburg University wrestling team opened the NCAA Division III National Championships with wins in all 10 of its bouts, taking a 5.5-point advantage over second-place Johnson and Wales University (R.I.) on Friday morning at the Berglund Center.


TOP 10 TEAM SCORES AFTER ROUND 1: 1. Augsburg (Minn.) 22.0; 2. Johnson & Wales (R.I.) 16.5; 3. Loras (Iowa) 13.5; 4. Wartburg (Iowa) 10.0; 5. Ithaca (N.Y.) 9.5; 6. Wabash (Ind.) 8.5; 7. College of New Jersey 7.5; 8t. Millikin (Ill.) 7.0; 8t. Wisconsin-Whitewater 7.0; 10. Mount Union (Ohio) 6.5.
LOCATION: Berglund Center, Roanoke, Va.

• All nine Augsburg wrestlers won their opening matches in the first round, scoring five pins and two major decisions among the team's 10 victories. Augsburg has 22.0 points after the first round, ahead of second-place Johnson & Wales' 16.5 points. Both Augsburg and JWU qualified nine wrestlers, but JWU had one competitor eliminated and only have five remaining in championship contention.

• Solomon Nielsen (SO, Luverne, Minn./Luverne HS) made his national tournament debut in dramatic fashion at 184 pounds, scoring a pair of come-from-behind wins by third-period pin -- a 6:29 pin of Tevin Bailey of Dubuque (Iowa) in a pigtail match, and a 6:50 pin of Jake Paulson of Penn State-Behrend (Pa.) in a first-round match. Bailey led 7-1 halfway through the second period, but Nielsen came back with three takedowns, the last one a drive that put Bailey on his back for a pin with 41 seconds left in the match. Against Paulson, Nielsen trailed 1-0 after two periods, but claimed a takedown, converted a driving takedown with 24 seconds left and with 10 seconds left, got his second pin of the day to improve to 28-7 on the season.

• Competing in his fourth national tournament, 133-pounder Sam Bennyhoff (SR, Mound, Minn./Mound-Westonka HS) built a dominating 13-0 lead in the third period, before eventually claiming a 5:34 pin of Russell Benson of Delaware Valley (Pa.) in his opening match. Last year's national runner-up at 133, Bennyhoff is now 25-4 this season and 118-26 in his career. He claimed his 34th career pin and sixth this season.

• Victor Gliva (JR, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS), seeded No. 3 at 125 pounds, opened the tournament with a 1:14 pin of Samuel Braswell of Averett (Va.), scoring a single-leg takedown at the 2:17 mark and working it into a pin 31 seconds later. Gliva, an eighth-place national finisher in 2017 making his third national tournament appearance, is now 26-5 on the season with eight pins.

• David Flynn (JR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)), opened his third national tournament appearance with a second-period pin over Jordan Napier of Manchester (Ind.) at 3:41. Leading 3-0 in the second period, Flynn worked an aggressive upper-body move to claim his 12th pin of the season, improving to 25-5 on the season and 98-30 in his collegiate career (70-16 at Augsburg).

• Defending 165-pound national champion Lucas Jeske (JR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS) extended his winning streak to 28 straight matches with a 10-2 major decision over Sam Gross of John Carroll (Ohio). He used four takedowns and 3:46 of riding time to dominate his match, improving to 18-0 on the season.

• Lance Benick (SO, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS), the No. 3-seed at 197 pounds, also had a very strong performance in his national tournament debut, scoring a 14-4 major decision over Gage Gladysz of Thiel (Pa.). He built a 4-2 lead after one period, then used a four-point near-fall in the second period to break open the match, eventually building 2:53 of riding time in the win to improve to 26-3 on the year.

• Ryan Epps (JR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS), the defending national champion at 157, improved to 34-3 on the season with another solid performance, a 5-1 win over JT Beirne of The College of New Jersey. Epps led 2-1 after one period, then rode Beirne for the entire second period to eventually build 3:13 of riding time in the win. Epps, the No. 2 seed in the field at 157, is now 110-11 in his career.

• At 149, Alex Wilson (SR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS) used a strong third period to score a 6-3 win over Luke Hernandez of Mount Union (Ohio) in his opener. Tied 3-3 to start the third period, Hernandez chose an "optional start," giving Wilson an escape point. But Hernandez was unable to get a takedown on Wilson, and Wilson turned the tables with a takedown of his own with 14 seconds left in the match to improve to 35-5 on the season and 128-36 in his career in his second national tournament.

• Tanner Vassar (JR, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS), competing in his second national tournament, had an impressive performance in a 10-4 win over Jacob Krakow of Loras (Iowa) to open the meet. Vassar scored two takedowns in the first period, another in the second and another in the third to claim the win, improving to 23-7 on the season and 90-27 in his career.

• The second session of the national tournament starts at 5 p.m. (Central time) on Friday. The session, known as the "All-American round," eliminates the field to eight wrestlers in each class, who earn All-American honors.


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