Kearney, Neb. – The seventh-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team is tied for fourth place with 33.5 points after the first day of the 2018 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
he Lopers came in with five qualifiers and all five are still alive and can finish no lower than eighth. UNK went 10-3 on day one including two falls and a major decision.
Notre Dame College of Ohio (48.85) has a slim lead over defending national champion St. Cloud State (46.5) with West Region champ California Baptist a close third (41.0). Tournament host Upper Iowa also has 33.5 points with three others between 24-28.5 points.
On Saturday morning, senior Bryce Shoemaker (133 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Josh Portillo (125 lbs.) will wrestle to reach the finals in their respective weight class. Shoemaker (Baldwin City, Kan.) earns his second collegiate All-American honor with Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) becoming UNK’s first 125 pound All-American in 11 years. That was the longest drought at any weight class for the Lopers.
Still alive in the consolation side of the brackets are junior Zach Stodden (174 lbs.), sophomore Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Matt Malcom (157 lbs.). Stodden is now a two-time All-American with the others earning their first such accolade.
Returning to his home state, the sixth-ranked Portillo (12-5) was up 2-0 in his first round match before he stuck 12th-ranked Eric Bartos of Mercyhust (Pa.) at 2:54. The South Dakota State transfer then, for the second time this year, beat defending national champion Brett Velasquez (27-3) of St. Cloud State.
Things didn’t look good for Portillo early on as he trailed the Bennington native 2-1. Velasquez also had well over two minutes of riding time but an escape and subsequent takedown got Portillo going. The match was tied at three all with less than a minute to go when Portillo took down Velasquez right before he went out of bounds. He then racked up 4-near fall points after Velasquez started in the down position and couldn’t escape. Ironically, Velasquez still had enough time remaining to get a point of riding time but lost 9-5.
Up next for Portillo is seventh-ranked Maleek Williams of tourney host Upper Iowa. Shoemaker, who won an NAIA national title for Baker (Kan.) University, followed Portillo’s first round fall with one of his own. Ranked fourth coming in, he was up 2-0 before pinning Naquan Hardy of McKendree at the 3:00 mark.
In the quarterfinals, Shoemaker (20-3) shut out eighth-ranked Nolan Whitely of Newberry (S.C.), 3-0. A first period takedown and second period escape was the difference. Another UIU Peacock, second-ranked Josh Walker, is up next.
At 157 pounds, the 11th-ranked Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.) bounced back from an opening 8-3 loss to ninth-ranked Cortez Arredondo of Southwest Minnesota State. The Iowa transfer first majored Heath Lange of Indianapolis, 12-3, and then got past sixth-ranked Pernevlon Sheppard of Wisconsin-Parkside, 4-0.
Fourth-ranked Ryan Strope of McKendree (Ill.) is his next foe; Malcom (19-6) beat him 3-2 at National Duals.
Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.), ranked ninth at 174 pounds and now a two-time All-American, recorded three takedowns to beat 10th-ranked Steven Edwards of Pitt-Johnstown, 7-3, in a first round match. After losing to unbeaten and top-ranked Nick Becker of Wisconsin-Parkside, Stodden (32-13) edged Gino Sita (35-7) of West Virginia’s Alderson-Broaddus, 3-2. An early takedown was the deciding factor.
UNK runs into McKendree again in this round as Stodden will next face fifth-ranked Nick Foster. He lost to Foster, 8-2, at National Duals.
Finally, third-ranked Jarrod Hinrichs (Geneva) bounced back from a late loss to Kutztown’s Ryan Appelby, 3-2, to move to 40-8 on the season. Appleby used a takedown with 15 seconds left in the third period to win, 5-4.
The fifth Loper to reach the 40 win mark in a season, Hinrichs bounced back to beat MIAA rival Jacob Borgmeyer of Lindenwood, 2-1, and Dylan Faulkenber of Indianapolis, 9-5. Borgmeyer was dinged for stalling early in the third period with Hinrichs recording late takedowns to beat the UI Greyhound. Sixth-ranked Mitch Eull of Minot (N.D) State is his next foe. The third session begins Saturday morning.