Seven national top-10 team finishes
CEDAR RAPIDS—For the second straight year, Central College will be wrestling in March.
Junior Joseph Atwell (Jamaica, Panorama HS) muscled his way through the bottom half of the 157-pound bracket at the Iowa Conference Tournament Friday, knocking off a nationally ranked opponent and avenging a first-round loss to grab a spot in the NCAA Division III Championships March 9-10 at La Crosse, Wis.
The Dutch placed sixth in the team standings with 76 points, edging Loras College by two points to improve on last year's seventh-place finish. Wartburg captured the title (193.5) and Coe took second (157). Central placed in the top seven at all 10 weights.
“Overall I thought it was an outstanding effort by our guys,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “I thought we battled in all positions and we gave ourselves some chances and Joseph Atwell took advantage of that. To have the second consecutive year of taking a guy to nationals is just huge for our program.”
Atwell, seeded fourth at 157, was defeated 7-2 in his opening-round match by Chris Gansen of Loras. Atwell rebounded with a 5-4 victory over Simpson’s Brian Haynes before scoring a 6-4 upset over Cornell’s Nicholas Loughlin, who is ranked No. 8 in Division III. Atwell then met Gansen in the third-place match and reversed the previous outcome, posting a 9-2 win.
“To avenge a loss from earlier in the day and to do it that dominantly speaks well for his work ethic and his perseverance,” Van Kley said. “We just couldn’t be prouder of him. It was an awesome job.”
Meanwhile, TJ Peretti (sophomore, Auburn, Wash., Auburn Mountainview HS) reached the quarterfinals at 141 pounds, knocking off third-seeded Chris LeClere of Coe, 8-7, before settling for fifth place. Tommy Van Renterghem (senior, Oskaloosa) also reached the quarterfinals before taking fifth at 174 pounds.
Placing sixth were Dan Gordon (senior, Anchorage, Alaska, Diamond HS) at 197 pounds and Daniel Page (freshman, Yelm, Wash., Tumwater HS) at 125 pounds, which is considered one of the deepest weights of the tournament with five wrestlers ranked in the nation’s top 10.
“I thought Daniel Page set the tempo for the day,” Van Kley said. “He’s a freshman at 125, far and away the toughest weight, just his attitude I thought was contagious.”
Finishing seventh for the Dutch were Kalen Greiner (sophomore, Keota) at 133, Josh Atwell (senior, Jamaica, Perry HS) at 149, Reid Imerman (senior, Guthrie Center) at 165, Tyler Lowy (freshman, Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird HS) at 184 and Jake Crawford (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) at 285.
“I thought top to bottom we were pretty solid all around,” Van Kley said. “I think the majority of our team wrestled at or above their seeds."
Van Kley also highlighted the senior effort.
“I also can’t give enough praise to our seniors, the heart they showed today, both in the matches they won and the matches they lost, persevering through, I’m extremely proud of this senior class.”