Seven national top-10 team finishes
PELLA—Central College junior Daniel Page (Tumwater, Wash.) is back at the NCAA Division III wrestling championships with last years’ experience under his belt.
Page will compete Friday and Saturday in the 125-pound weight bracket at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. The bracket features seven of the top-10 125-pound wrestlers in the country, including Page ranked No. 10.
Last year Page topped No. 4-seeded Isaac Balsiger of Wis.-La Crosse 8-5 in a pigtail match before upsetting No. 5-seeded Sean Ambrocio of Concordia (Wis.) 7-6. One match from All-America distinction, Page was edged by Gilberto Camacho of Wartburg, this year’s No. 2 seed, and was eliminated by Balsiger in the consolation bracket.
“Daniel wrestled well last year,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “He was comfortable and confident. He feels even better having been through the process once already.”
The Iowa Conference qualified three 125-pound wrestlers for this year’s tournament, headlined by top-ranked Camacho. Nicholas Rivera of Dubuque was the other qualifier, upsetting No. 8-ranked Garrett Wangsness of Luther, who did not qualify for the 18-man tournament.
Order of competition—Cornell College will play host to the national meet at the US Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. Action begins Friday with the opening ceremonies at 10:45 a.m. followed by the preliminary rounds at 11 a.m. Friday’s evening session of championship quarterfinals and consolation second and third rounds begins at 6 p.m.
Page will be the second match on mat Friday morning.
“Daniel knows he’s wrestling one of the first matches of the day,” said Van Kley. “Consistent preparation is a good thing. He’s used to wrestling the first match in a dual or tournament, so we can prepare accordingly. He wrestled well out of the shoot last year and we expect the same thing this year.”
Action resumes Saturday at 10 a.m. The parade of All-Americans is at 6:30 p.m., while the Division III finals are scheduled for 7 p.m. with awards presentations planned for 9 p.m.
New face, same place—For the second straight year, Page is one of four wrestlers that must compete in a pigtail to advance to the16-man bracket, facing SUNY-Cortland’s Sean Kempf (13-6) in the opening match. The other pigtail of the bracket involves top-seeded Paul Bewak (32-1) of Johns Hopkins and Jonathan Murray (17-4) of Rhode Island, the third-place finisher from Kempf’s regional.
“Daniel needs to be ready for that first match,” Van Kley said. “He’s facing a regional champion and everyone at this tournament earned their spot. He needs to give his best effort.”
Seeded No. 5 at the NCAA Northeast Regional, Kempf upset No. 4-seeded Anthony D’Anton of Roger Williams 6-1 in the quarterfinals, No. 1-seeded Murray 5-2 in the semifinals and No. 3-seeded Jimmy Kaishian of Ithaca 6-2 in the title bout. The regional was without a nationally ranked wrestler at 125.
The winner of the Page/Kempf pigtail advances to face Kaishian (23-11) in the 16-man bracket.
“The interesting thing about Kempf is that he wrestled at 133 pounds all year, but competed at 125 for the regional,” said Van Kley. “He’s a bigger 125-pounder, but Daniel wrestles well against a physical style. He needs to wrestle his match and not worry about who his opponent is or where he’s from. He needs to be ready to go for seven minutes.”
The Dutch and Red Dragons did not compete against each other in open or dual format. Only once did SUNY-Cortland venture outside the northeast this season (Las Vegas, Nev.).
Two other Iowa Conference wrestlers are among the 16. Wartburg’s Camacho (14-1) earned the No. 2 seed and takes on Wis.-Platteville’s Cole Ferguson (19-6) in the round of 16. Dubuque’s Rivera (18-16) faces No. 3-seeded Lucas Malmberg (43-3) of Messiah, who has the most wins of any 125-pounder.
All three Iowa Conference wrestlers are in the same half of the bracket.
Different chapter, same Page— Page qualified for the championships with a 3-2 decision over Cornell’s Ben Rosen in the semifinals of the NCAA Central Regional before succumbing to top-seeded Camacho by 12-4 major decision in the 125-pound championship bout.
The showing upped his season record to 31-5. He is third on the team with seven falls and tops with six major decisions. Page’s career mark is now 79-30 with two national tournament appearances through three seasons.
Page’s regular season was highlighted by wins over national qualifier Nicholas Rivera of Dubuque (4-1), Nick Santos of North Central (Ill.) (7-2), Brad Kakos of Wheeling Jesuit (W. Va.) (12-3) and Joel Salomon of St. Cloud State (Minn.) (4:41) and first-place finishes at the Knox Invitational, the Milwaukee School of Engineering Invitational and the Central Invitational.
“I’m confident in Daniel,” Van Kley said. “He wrestled a good regional. Last year he was prepared and wrestled an outstanding national tournament.
“He’s going to wrestle well again this weekend.”
Dutch wrestlers have captured All-America honors 43 times and won four individual titles. Kevin Owens was Central’s most recent All-American in 2004.