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Augsburg wins regional, advances 8 to NCAAs

MINNEAPOLIS -- The No. 3-ranked Augsburg University men's wrestling team claimed an NCAA Division III regional title for the 18th straight year, qualifying individuals in eight weight classes, including four regional champions, to the national championships at the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional, completed on Saturday at Si Melby Hall.

FINAL TEAM SCORES: 1. Augsburg (Minn.) 196.5; 2. Wisconsin-La Crosse 157.5; 3. Wisconsin-Whitewater 116.0; 4. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 100.0; 5. University of Chicago (Ill.) 85.0; 6t. Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.) 82.0; 6t. Wisconsin-Stevens Point 82.0; 8. Wisconsin-Platteville 79.0; 9. Wheaton (Ill.) 59.0; 10. Elmhurst (Ill.) 50.5; 11. Wisconsin-Oshkosh 44.0; 12. Saint John's (Minn.) 35.5; 13. Concordia-Wisconsin 17.0; 14. Milwaukee School of Engineering (Wis.) 11.0; 15. Pacific (Ore.) 7.5; 16. Lakeland (Wis.) 2.5; 17. St. Olaf (Minn.) 0.5.

LOCATION: Si Melby Hall, Minneapolis.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Tanner Vassar is in position to pin his opponent during a 2019-20 Augsburg mens wrestling match.• Augsburg, ranked No. 3 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national poll, won the 17-team regional with 196.5 points. Augsburg has won the team title in its NCAA regional every year since starting regional competition in the 2002-03 season.
• With its eight national tournament qualifiers, Augsburg has had seven or more national tournament qualifiers in 17 of the last 18 seasons. Augsburg had four regional champions, two runners-up and two third-place finishers. The top three finishers in each weight class qualify for the national tournament.
• Augsburg wrestlers went 16-7 in Saturday's action, with six pins, a technical fall and two major decisions. In the two-day tournament, the Auggies combined for a 37-8 record, with 17 pins, a technical fall and eight major decisions.
• Augsburg Co-Head Coaches Jim Moulsoff and Tony Valek Upper Midwest Regional Tournament Coach of the Year award, while the Augsburg assistant coaching staff shared the Tournament Assistant Coach of the Year award with Adam Latella of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
• In qualifying for the national tournament for the second time by winning the regional title at 149 pounds, Augsburg's Aaron Wilson (SR, Oak Grove, Minn./St. Francis HS) also earned the tournament's Most Falls in Least Time award, as he claimed four pins among his five victories in the meet in 10:01. Wilson, ranked No. 4 nationally at 149 pounds, reached a career milestone with his 100th career victory in the semifinals, then scored a 5:58 pin of Jimmy McAuliffe of Elmhurst (Ill.) in the finals. Now 101-30 in his collegiate career, Wilson improved to 30-1 on the season, including 14 pins, nine technical falls and two major decisions. He previously qualified for the national tournament in the 2015-16 season at 141 pounds.
• Top-ranked 184-pounder Tanner Vassar (SR, Maple Lake, Minn./Maple Lake HS) earned his third trip to the national tournament with his first regional title, scoring a third-period 15-1 technical fall in the semifinals and a medical forfeit win in the finals. Now unbeaten at 31-0, Vassar is 124-29 in his college career. Of his 31 wins, 21 are bonus-point triumphs (17 pins, four technical falls, two major decisions). Vassar is a two-time All-American, having finished seventh at 174 in 2018 and fifth at 174 in 2019.
• Defending 141-pound national champion David Flynn (SR, Jordan, Minn./Jordan HS (Scott West)) earned his fourth straight trip to the national tournament with his second regional title. The No. 6-ranked 141-pounder nationally, Flynn scored a 3-1 win in the semifinals, then scored a 4-2 victory over No. 3-ranked Hazen Rice of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a takedown with nine seconds left in sudden-victory overtime. Now 17-3 on the season, Flynn is 90-19 in his three-and-a-half seasons at Augsburg, and 118-33 in his overall college career (including a semester spent at Division I North Dakota State in 2016-17). In addition to his national title last year, Flynn also finished third nationally in 2016-17.
Solomon Nielsen attempts to lift his opponent for a throw during a 2019-20 Augsburg mens wrestling meet.• Solomon Nielsen (JR, Luverne, Minn./Luverne HS) earned his second straight trip to the national tournament with his first regional title at 184 pounds. Ranked No. 5 nationally at 174, he claimed two dominant wins over nationally-ranked opponents on Saturday, with a 14-7 triumph over No. 6-ranked Evan Lawrence of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the semifinals, and an 11-3 major decision win over No. 2-ranked Jaritt Shinhoster of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals. Nielsen is now 21-2 on the season and 78-18 in his career. He was a national tournament qualifier at 184 last season.
• At 157, two-time defending national champion Ryan Epps (SR, Cannon Falls, Minn./Cannon Falls HS) earned his fourth straight trip to the national tournament with a second-place regional finish. Ranked No. 2 nationally at 157, Epps reached the final with a 9-0 major decision win, then suffered a 7-6 overtime loss to top-ranked Grant Zamin of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the finals. After riding the full 30 seconds in his portion of the second overtime, Epps scored an escape four seconds into Zamin's portion, but gave up a takedown with 16 seconds left and could not escape to tie the match. Epps is now 28-2 on the season and 141-13 in his college career. Epps won regional titles in his first three seasons as an Auggie.
• Defending 197-pound national champion Lance Benick (JR, Scandia, Minn./Totino-Grace HS) earned his second straight trip to the national tournament with a second-place regional finish. He earned his national berth with a 4-3, come-from-behind win over Colten Cashmore of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the semifinals, scoring the decisive takedown with two seconds left in the bout. In his first action this weekend after being sidelined for more than a month due to injury, he took a medical default in the title bout. Benick is now 5-2 on the season and 45-10 in his Auggie career.
• Two-time defending 165-pound national champion Lucas Jeske (SR, St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville HS), currently ranked No. 3 nationally, suffered a 15-6, major decision loss in the semifinals, but rallied back to gain his fourth straight trip to the national tournament with a third-place finish. He scored a 2:59 pin in the consolation semifinal, then claimed one of the most dramatic come-from-behind finishes of his career in the third-place match against Nathan Wynsma of Wisconsin-Platteville. Trailing 14-0 with 1:45 left in the second period, Jeske scored a reversal and two 2-point near-falls to trail 14-6 after two periods. He then scored a dramatic pin with 58 seconds left in the third period to clinch the national berth. Jeske is now 9-3 on the season and 96-12 in his college career. In addition to his two national titles, Jeske finished third nationally in 2016-17, and has three regional titles to his credit.
• In one of the most challenging weight-class brackets of the tournament, No. 2-ranked 133-pounder Victor Gliva (SR, Farmington, Minn./Farmington HS) earned his fourth straight national tournament berth with a third-place finish. He was edged 7-5 by No. 5-ranked Noah Becker of Saint John's in the semifinals, but rallied back with a 1:49 pin in the consolation semifinals, then scored an 8-5 win over Josh Stnger of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the third-place match. Gliva is now 25-5 on the season and 114-27 in his college career. He has earned All-American honors twice in his Auggie career, finishing eighth at 125 in 2018 and fifth at 125 in 2019.
• Two Auggie first-year wrestlers saw their seasons end on Saturday. Heavyweight Tyler Kim (FY, Burnsville, Minn./Apple Valley HS) finished in fifth place, finishing his season at 24-9, and 125-pounder Justin Stauffacher (FY, Belle Plaine, Minn./Belle Plaine HS (Scott West)) finished in sixth place, ending his season at 17-11..

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