Seven national top-10 team finishes
DUBUQUE—A commanding offense propelled Central College sophomore Daniel Page (Yelm, Wash., Tumwater HS) to the 125-pound finals of the Central Regional Saturday, securing him a berth at the NCAA Division III wrestling championships.
It’s the third straight year Central has sent a representative to the national meet, held March 15-16 at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena at Cedar Rapids.
Central placed eighth in the regional team standings with 50.5 points, just half a point behind seventh-place Augustana (Ill.). Wartburg claimed the team crown with 161 points with Luther second (122.5) and Dubuque third (110.5).
After knocking off two nationally ranked opponents in the regular season, Page (23-6) received the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye. He blanked Buena Vista’s Branden Schultz by an 11-0 major decision, then locked up a spot at the national meet with a 4:10 pin over Luther’s Nick Scheffert.
“Daniel had a big series against the Luther wrestler and got a reversal to put him (Scheffert) right on his back,” coach Eric Van Kley said.
The finals featured a rematch against Wartburg’s Gilberto Camacho, the fourth-ranked wrestler in Div.III. Page won by a slim 3-2 decision in January, but Camacho secured the regional title with a 7-3 decision.
“We know he’s capable of beating Camacho but Daniel came off a little slow in the first period and got behind early,” Van Kley said. “It’s definitely something we can build on between now and nationals.”
Senior Joseph Atwell (Jamaica, Panorama HS), who advanced to the national meet last year, narrowly missed the championships cutoff with a fourth-place finish at 157 pounds. Atwell (18-7) had a bye before rolling past Augustana’s Kevin Sundberg by technical fall, 16-1. He fell to Wartburg’s Cole Welter by a 9-0 major decision but rebounded with a 9-2 decision over Luther’s Blake Letney. Advancing to third-place match, Atwell fell to Demitri Boyer of Coe by decision, 6-0.
“It was a close match against Coe and it’s disappointing to come up short but Joseph had a solid effort today and has had a tremendous four years,” Van Kley said. “He’s made so many contributions to the program.”
Junior TJ Peretti (Auburn, Wash., Mountainview HS) placed fifth at 141 pounds, edging Coe’s Beau Westphal for a 5-3 sudden victory. Senior Ryan Davis (Shreveport, La., Northwood HS) finished sixth at 149 pounds with a 3-1 effort, wrapping up the year at 20-9.
“Ryan and TJ both had great efforts today and it was good to see them place,” Van Kley said.
Sophomore Tyler Lowy (Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird HS) burst out of the gates at 184 pounds, recording an 11-second pin over Ruben Vilalobos of Knox (Ill.) in his opening match. The time is a school record for fastest pin in a tournament, besting the 13-second mark set by Alex Wright in 2011.
Van Kley also cited Theron Stewart (senior, Marshalltown) at 197 pounds. He closed the year at 24-4 after an injury cut his regional action short.
“Theron suffered a fairly serious injury and that’s a tough way to finish a senior year, but I’m extremely proud and pleased with all of his contributions,” he said.
While the team’s finish wasn’t quite what the Dutch were aiming for, Van Kley said the program is still on the upward surge.
“The team standings are a little deceiving. Theron’s injury default impacted our place and there were a couple other matches that could have gone our way,” Van Kley said. “It’s something to improve on in the years to come and we’ll continue to climb up the ladder. But right now we’re extremely excited to be returning to the national tournament for the third consecutive year.”
Photo courtesy of Coe sports information