St. Cloud State won its fourth national title since 2015 (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
The St. Cloud State University wrestling team (20-0, 8-0 NSIC) finished its perfect season by capturing the 2019 NCAA Division II team championship on March 8-9 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Huskies finish the tournament with a team score of 95.5 points, while Wheeling Jesuit was in second place at 87.5 and McKendree placed third at 83.0. The top five was completed by Notre Dame (OH) with 77.5 points and Nebraska-Kearney with 71.0.
This marked the fourth time since 2015 that the Huskies have won the NCAA Division II national championship. SCSU also claimed the NCAA title in 2015, 2016 and 2018, all under the leadership of head coach Steve Costanzo.
SCSU senior Vince Dietz led the Huskies with a 3-1 record at the NCAA finals and finished as the runner-up at 197-pounds for the second consecutive season. In the title bout, Dietz lost a close 5-2 decision against Nicolas Mason of Tiffin. To reach the title bout, Dietz opened the day with a 4-3 win over Clayton Walstrom of Augustana in the semifinals.
He was one of seven All-Americans for the Huskies at the NCAA championships in 2019.
"The guys we brought here this weekend did a tremendous job but this title was a collective effort, it's everyone in that room on the team," SCSU coach Steve Costanzo said. "This team is a band of brothers who unite each year in a common goal."
At 125-pounds, Brett Velasquez ended a storied college career by placing fourth and earning his fourth NCAA All-America award. He finished his season with a 6-4 loss in the bout for third place against Cole Laya of Wheeling Jesuit. Velasquez ended 2018-19 with a 23-5 record and won 103 matches during his collegiate wrestling career at SCSU. He is the ninth SCSU wrestler in team history to gain All-America status four times during his college career.
At 133-pounds, Garrett Vos gained his first All-America award after placing sixth at the NCAA championships. In the match for fifth place, Vos lost by a fall to Tate Barnhart of University of Mary. Vos completed his season with a 22-5 overall record.
At 149-pounds, James Pleski gained his third All-America award as a Husky by placing fourth at the NCAA tourney. In the third place bout, Pleski lost a close 3-2 decision to Gavin Londoff on Lindenwood. Earlier in the day, Pleski reached the consolation finals thanks to a 3-1 sudden victory win over Isaiah Kemper of McKendree. In the tournament, Pleski wrestled in five overtime bouts. He completes his 2018-19 season with a 29-3 record.
At 157-pounds, Jake Barzowski brought home the third place title with a 6-4 win over Nate Smalling of McKendree. He reached the third place match by virtue of his 5-4 win over James Wimer of Findlay. This was Barzowski first All-America award as a Husky. He finishes his 2018-19 season with a 25-3 record.
In action at 165-pounds, Devin FitzPatrick placed sixth at the NCAA championships to gain his first All-America award. FitzPatrick lost in the fifth place bout to Korey Windham by a score of 6-5. FitzPatrick ended his season with a solid 26-6 record.
At 174-pounds, Kolton Eischens gained his second consecutive NCAA All-America award with a fourth place finish at the tournament. In his first match of the day on March 9, Eischens added important bonus points with a pin against TC Warner of Kutztown (2:30). In the third place match, Eischens lost by a fall against Michael Raccioppi of East Stroudsburg. Eischens finished his season in 2018-19 with a 25-4 record for the Huskies and Coach Costanzo.
SCSU's other two NCAA qualifiers at this year's tournament were seniors Travis Swanson and Chance Helmick. This was Swanson's first trip to the NCAA finals at 141-pounds and it was Helmick's first trip as a Husky to the NCAA championships at 184-pounds. Helmick also qualified for the NCAA championships during his collegiate career as a wrestler for Chadron State before his transfer to SCSU in 2018.
The Huskies will need to add another shelf to its trophy case as SCSU captured its eighth consecutive NSIC title in 2018-19 and also won the 2019 NWCA DII National Duals tournament and the 2019 NCAA Division II Super V regional crown.
The Huskies have not lost a dual meet since Jan. 14, 2017 (48 consecutive dual victories). SCSU has also won the NCAA DII Regional title in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2013, 2012 and 2011. At the NCAA championships, St. Cloud State has been impressive (see chart below) and the Huskies have also won NWCA DII National Duals championships in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2013 and 2012.