ST. LOUIS -- The top-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling steam started and finished strong and leads after the first day of the 2021 NCAA Division II Championships in St. Louis
The socially-distanced meet with limited attendance is being held at the America's Center Convention Complex. The second session runs Saturday from 12-5 p.m. with finals set for 7 p.m. Live results and a live video stream are available.
UNK, the only school with 10 qualifiers in the 44-team field, secured nine All-Americans (top eight finish) by going 7-1 in the consolation/elimination round. Receiving four early byes the Lopers went 5-1 in round one but struggled in the quarterfinals before finishing the day on a high note. By winning its last seven matches UNK zoomed up the team standings to be at 58.0 points. Defending national champion St. Cloud State is second (51.5) with St. Louis-area schools Lindenwood (43.5) and McKendree (42.5) sitting in third and fourth, respectively.
Headed to the semifinals again are Iowa senior Matt Malcom (165 lbs.) and Lincoln senior Wesley Dawkins (133 lbs.). Bouncing back from either a first or quarterfinal loss to be an All-American are Colorado senior Sam Turner (149 lbs.), Pennsylvania senior Jacob Wasser (157 lbs.), Kansas junior Austin Eldredge (184 lbs.), Kansas junior Terrell Garraway (174 lbs.), Kearney sophomore Lee Herrington (285 lbs.), Kearney redshirt freshman Nick James (141 lbs.), and Seward redshirt freshman Joseph Reimers (197 lbs.). UNK Wrestling
UNK had eight All-Americans in 2007 (national runners up) and 2008 (national champs). To win that title in 2008 the Lopers had just two finalists but four third place finishers and two in eighth.
Dawkins had an early takedown in his first-round match before sticking Logan Selga of North Carolina-Pembroke at the 3:00 minute mark. He then used two takedowns and a late escape to best sixth-seeded and previously unbeaten Jacob Dunlap of Gannon (Pa.), 5-1. Second-seed and unbeaten Tyler Warner of West Liberty (W.V.) is up next.
Four classes higher Malcom was equally as dominant. He had four takedowns and riding time to major previously undefeated James Penfold of Lake Erie (Ohio), 11-3. The now four-time All-American then got by sixth-seed Shane Gantz of Wisconsin-Parkside, 5-3, thanks to building up riding time in the third and an early takedown in the second. Second-seed and nemesis Fred Green of Colorado Mesa awaits; Malcom has lost to him in each of the last two regional finals.
In the afternoon consolation round, Herrington was up 6-0 when he pinned King's Cade Ridley at 3:00 with Turner having a fall at 2:04. Like Herrington he had already racked up a takedown and near fall points. Next, Garraway dominated the third period to beat eighth-seed Caleb Spears of Newberry (S.C.), 10-4, with James starting the big run of wins with a last second takedown of Ashland's Luke Wymer. James trailed 4-2 in the third with an escape getting him close before the late action. UNK's other freshman stepped as well as Reimers was rolling second-seeded Nick Mason of Tiffin, 8-3, before getting him on his back at 5:45
Finally, Eldredge scored four in the third to beat Gannon's Cam Page, 5-3, with Wasser leading his match against Mount Olive's Colby Teague the entire way, 7-3. Iowa senior Josh Portillo (125 lbs.) majored his first foe but lost each of his next two matches. The three-time All-American and two-time Elite 80 award winner is returning next season, taking advantage of a "free season."