Kearney, Neb. – The third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team has placed four into the finals at the 2019 NCAA Division II Championships Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio.
The third session of the two-day event began at 9 a.m. Central time and included championship semifinals and all remaining consolation matches. UNK saw all four of its remaining wrestlers reach the national championship bout in their respective weight class.
With the consolation round not wrapping up until later this afternoon, the Lopers are currently in fourth place with 67.0 points. St. Cloud State (82.0) leads with West Virginia’s Wheeling Jesuit second (73.0) and McKendree of Illinois third (67.5). All three have wrestlers on the backside including a host of SCSU Huskies that could finish in third place.
UNK has the most individuals in the finals and could rack up some big points and, depending on the place matches, take home the national team title. Wrestling for national titles tonight at 6 p.m. Central are junior Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and sophomores Wesley Dawkins (133 lbs.), Matt Malcom (157 lbs.) and Josh Portillo (125 lbs.). Fans can watch via a free live video web stream.
Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) beat Bennington native and second-seeded Brett Velasquez of St. Cloud State, 5-3, to reach his title match. This marks the second straight year Portillo has beaten Velasquez, the 2016 125 lbs. national champ, in the NCAA’s.
Now 32-6 on the year, Portillo used takedowns in the first and second periods to never trail. However, he started down in the third and Velasquez stayed on top for most of the 2:00. But he couldn’t tip Portillo and lost for just the fourth time all winter. Portillo now faces MIAA rival Carlos Jacquez of Lindenwood. The two have squared off four times the past two years with each wrestler winning twice.
At 133 pounds, Dawkins (Lincoln H.S.) used a takedown 12 seconds into overtime to best Hunter Bray of Notre Dame (Ohio) College, 3-1 (SV-1). Late in the second period, a takedown by Dawkins and subsequent escape by Bray was wiped off the board after a lengthy video review. That kept the score at one all with neither wrestler having a great chance at scoring in the third.
Dawkins (27-9) squares off against top-seeded Tyler Warner of WJU (28-1) for the national title.
There was once again no drama in Malcom’s match as he won for the 19th straight time. The top seed at 157 pounds, Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.) recorded a 16-0 tech fall in 4:50 to move past McKendree’s Nate Smalling. Malcom is now 28-5 with 21 bonus point wins.
Colin Ayers of Augustana (31-11) is up next; he came into the tournament unranked and won his last two matches by a combined five points.
Finally, Hinrichs (Geneva) followed Dawkins’ lead and won quickly in overtime, 9-7 (SV-1). Upsetting top-seeded Terrrance Fanning of WJU, Hinrichs was ahead 7-5 late in the third period with riding time in his hip pocket. However, Fanning recorded a takedown and stayed up top to erase the 1:14 advantage.
Once again in this tournament, UNK pounced in the sudden victory period as Hinrichs took down Fanning at the 30 second mark. Andrew Dunn from Kutztown, Pa. (25-2) won the other semifinal match, upsetting two-time national runner Kameron Teacher of NDC.
The last time UNK has had four in the finals was 2013 when Daniel DeShazer (133 lbs.) and Raufeon Stots (149 lbs.) came in first with Romero Cotton (197 lbs.) and Chase Nelson (165 lbs.) finishing second.