Seven national top-10 team finishes
PELLA — Making its first appearance as a nationally ranked squad in 20 years, the No. 29 Central College wrestling team won five of its first six matches and knocked off No. 19 St. Olaf College (Minn.) 27-11 in the season opener Wednesday night.
It’s the first Dutch victory over a nationally ranked Division III opponent since a 31-10 upset of No. 25 Buena Vista on Dec. 10, 2004 and just the third time in 11 years that Central has won its season opener.
Powered by falls from a pair of freshmen, Central built up a 21-3 lead. Aaron Anderson (freshman, Clarion, Clarion-Goldfield HS) needed just 0:56 for a fall in his collegiate debut at 133 pounds while 165-pounder Jon Heffner (freshman, Lehigh Acres, Fla., Riverdale HS) got a pin in 6:35 in his first match.
“Anytime you compete your first time in college, there will be a little bit of nerves but they handled it well,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “Those bonus points are huge in a dual match.”
Daniel Page (sophomore, Yelm, Wash., Tumwater HS) opened with a 5-3 decision at 125 pounds while TJ Peretti (junior, Auburn, Wash., Mountainview HS) followed Anderson with a 5-4 victory at 141. Returning national qualifier Joseph Atwell (senior, Jamaica, Panorama HS) had a hard-fought 8-5 win at 157, Theron Stewart (senior, Marshalltown) was a 4-0 winner at 197 pounds and Jake Crawford (senior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) got a late third-period takedown for a 3-2 triumph at 285 pounds.
“It’s a great start,” Van Kley said. “We feel like we’ve got a really balanced team this year with great upperclass leaders and some freshmen with a lot of potential to be excited about.”
St. Olaf has a veteran squad and defeated Central last year 24-15.
“They brought a good team down here,” Van Kley said. “There were a few tough swing matches and tonight they went our way.
“This is a great way to start. We did some things right but we definitely saw a lot of things we need to improve on.
“And we really appreciate the great fan support we had. That helped make it a fun night.”
Central competes in the non-scored Knox Invitational at Galesburg, Ill. Saturday. About 12 teams are expected.
“It’s a great chance for everybody on the team to get some matches, which is what we need right now,” Van Kley said.
No. 29 Central 27, No. 19 St. Olaf (Minn.) 11
125—Daniel Page (C) dec. Wesley Azariah, 5-3; 133—Aaron Anderson (C) won by fall over Nichola Chrisner, :56; 141—TJ Peretti (C) dec. Adam Woitalla, 5-4; 149—Carl Elmer (StO) dec. Ryan Davis, 9-5; 157—Joseph Atwell (C) dec. Jacob Bohler, 8-5; 165—Jon Heffner (C) won by fall over Hugh Ellerman, 6:35; 174—James Roach won by tech. fall over Sam Apland, 17-2 (4:23); 184—Andrew Rudd (StO) dec. Tyler Lowy, 9-5; 197—Theron Stewart (C) dec. Ryan Williamson, 4-0; 285—Jake Crawford (C) dec. Zach Gibson, 3-2.