The Knox wrestling team traveled to Concordia University, located in Mequon, WI, last Saturday to compete in the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Wrestling Regional.
The 15-team field of schools who competed, listed in order of place, were: Augsburg College, Concordia-Moorhead College, North Central College, St. John’s University, Elmhurst College, University of Chicago, Lakeland College, Wheaton College, Concordia University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Augustana College, St. Olaf College, Knox College, and Pacific University.
Sophomore Edel Vaca was the only wrestler to place for the Prairie Fire. He entered the tournament as the fourth seed and after a first round by suffered an upset loss due to a fall to Mike Holman from Concordia-Moorhead. Vaca came back in the consolation bracket defeating Kurt Kemnitz of Concordia University, also by fall, in 5:16. He then defeated the Northern Wrestling Association Conference Champion, Rob Frias, by a score of 5-3. Vaca’s run came to an end when he lost to Ben Hart of UIC. Vaca would meet a familiar foe for the fifth place match—Holman. The match went past the regulation time and end in a 9-7 decision in sudden victory in favor of Holman. Vaca is only the second sophomore wrestler in the past eight years to place sixth or better at the Great Lakes Regional and finished his season 28-14.
Also picking up a victory on the day was Galesburg native and Prairie Fire sophomore Danny Stafford, wrestling at 165 pounds. Stafford lost a hard-fought first round match to the sixth seed Jacob Frias by score of 4-2. He then quickly rebounded with a first period technical fall over Billy Meier of Concordia. Stafford was then bumped out of the tournament by a 4-2 decision versus Wheaton College’s Justin Marble.
Senior Marty Dertz closed out his wrestling career at Knox by finishing 1-2 Saturday. His win came in the consolation rounds where he flattened St. Olaf’s Paul Reilly in 1:37. Freshman Alex Faulkner (197 lbs.) entered the tournament seeded eight and also went 1-2 on the day. His win came against an opponent who he had suffered two previous losses to Wheaton College. Faulkner maintained control and showed his rapid growth throughout the season by winning 9-6 over Matthew Griffiths. Faulkner finished his first year of college wrestling with a 21-20 record. He is the second freshman wrestler in the past eight years to end his first season with a winning record.