SJU Travels to Indiana for This Weekend’s NWCA National Duals

The Saint John’s wrestling team travels to Fort Wayne, Ind., for the NWCA/Cliff Keen Division III National Duals this Friday and Saturday, Jan. 9-10. The Johnnies begin the elite, 24-team dual tournament against No. 15 Alma (Mich.) at 9 a.m. EST on Friday.

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A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s (3-8 dual record) recorded 11 pins to go 2-1 at the Chicago Duals on Saturday (Jan. 3). The Johnnies sandwiched a 38-18 loss to No. 2 Wabash (Ind.) with wins against Dubuque (30-21) and Manchester (27-18). Eleven of SJU’s 14 wins on the day were via pin. Down 21-6 through six matches to Dubuque (Iowa), SJU battled back with four pins, including three in the first period, to earn the 30-21 win. The win avenged a 24-18 loss to the Spartans at last year’s Chicago Duals. Eight of the 10 matches against second-ranked Wabash were decided by a pin. The Little Giants built a 38-6 lead before senior Ryan Michaelis (Monticello, Minn.) and sophomore Colin Fisher (Eagan, Minn.) tallied pins at 197 pounds and heavyweight, respectively. Back-to-back pins gave Manchester an 18-12 lead before a pair of freshmen, Nick Hoff (Rushford, Minn./Rushford-Peterson) and Nick Pegelow (Eagan, Minn./Eastview), recorded pins for SJU at 184 and 197, respectively. Fisher wrapped up the victory with a 2-1 decision.

GOOD START: Fisher (heavyweight) and Michaelis (197 pounds) are a combined 9-0 on the mat so far this season. A two-time national entrant who is ranked as high as ninth nationally by D3wrestle.com, Michaelis registered two more pins last Saturday and is 4-0 on the year (a major decision and three pins). Fisher, meanwhile, posted a 3-0 record at heavyweight and is 5-0 (three pins and two decisions). The return to the mat by both Fisher and Michaelis was delayed due to SJU football’s postseason run. Michaelis appeared in all 12 games for the Johnnies and tallied 19 tackles (11 solo), including 3.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries at defensive end, while Fisher was a backup offensive lineman.

BIG WIN: Fisher started the Chicago Duals with a dramatic third-period pin over Dubuque’s Dan Howell to give SJU a 30-21 team victory. Fisher was down 7-0 before earning the exciting fall in comeback fashion. He tallied another pin early in the second period to end the Johnnies’ 38-18 loss to No. 2 Wabash (Ind.) before posting a 2-1 decision in the final bout against Manchester (Ind.).

STILL STREAKING: Junior Ben Henle (Spicer, Minn./New London-Spicer) ran his win streak to 11 with three more wins on the day at 141 pounds last Saturday. He is ranked seventh nationally by D3wrestle.com and is 17-4 on the year, with all four losses against Division I or Division II student-athletes.

NATIONAL RANKINGS: Henle (No. 9) and Michaelis (No. 10) cracked the top 10 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings released Jan. 5. Henle moved up one spot to seventh at 141 pounds by D3wrestle.com (Jan. 6) and Michaelis stayed at No. 9 at 197.

THE TOURNEY: The winner of the Johnnies’ dual with No. 15 Alma faces No. 5 Mount Union (Ohio) at 11 a.m. EST. The losing team will face the loser between No. 6 Wisconsin-La Crosse and the Dubuque (Iowa)/Wilkes (Pa.) winner at 1 p.m. EST.

A LOOK AT THE SCOTS: Alma (8-3 dual record) went 4-0 at the Gator Duals back on Dec. 20, including wins over then-No. 8 Loras (Iowa) and then-No. 18 Johnson & Wales (R.I.). The Scots currently boast three nationally-ranked wrestlers:

125: No. 10 Tyler Foley
165: No. 4/7 Matt Tuttle
174: No. 7 Jamie Jakes

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