Augustana College wrestling coach Eric Juergens saw some good things out of his young Viking squad Tuesday night at Carver Center.|
However, he also admitted there was a difference between his young team, with all but one wrestler either a freshman or sophomore in eligibility, against the nationally second-ranked Elmhurst Bluejays, who are 9-1 and coming off a second-place finish at the Cliff Keen National Duals.
"You can tell we're a young lineup,'' said Juergens after his 13-4 club's 31-11 dual setback. "We fought hard. There was nothing wrong with the fight. We just did not win the close matches.''
The Vikings, ranked No. 27 after being as lofty as No. 17 earlier this season, lost three decisions in the middle of the match by three points or fewer that turned the tide. The most stinging was at 174, where Augie senior Matt Burns (28-4) lost 7-6 to nationally 10th-ranked Danny Balderas, a junior. Burns, who got bull-rushed for three takedowns, had Balderas' on one leg with his ankle waist-high for the final 20 seconds, but could never score the deciding takedown.
"That showed their leadership,'' said Juergens. "They were winning those tight matches. You take those three matches and turn them around and we're right in the match.''
In the opening 125-pound match, takedowns were not an issue for Augie's 5th-ranked sophomore Jacob Scholten (29-3). He threw Miguel Venecia around the mat like a ragdoll en route to a 22-7 major decision.
"That's what we should do, always try to build the lead like that; be aggressive,'' said Juergens, glad that Scholten kept listening to the staff implore him to work the takedowns.
Sophomore Walter Piech (18-10) won an exciting 7-6 decision over EC's Jim Spangler at 149 and 285-pound sophomore John Schraidt capped the match with a 6-4 decision, showing some nimble moves.
The only local in Augie's lineup, freshman Jake Melik, a Pleasant Valley product, was pinned in the 197-pound match by 5th-ranked Mike Benefiel in :52.
The Vikings were without junior standout Jordan Richardson (25-7), who is out two-to-six weeks with a shoulder injury.
Elmhurst coach Steve Marinelli, a former University of Illinois standout under former Quad-Citian Mark Johnson, didn't leave the dual totally happy.
"We had some specific things we were working on for this meet and things for them to stay away from and a couple of guys didn't,'' he said. "It's back to working to keep consistency of performance.''
There are also plenty of things that Juergens wants his Vikings to work on between now and the CCIW Championships on Feb. 21 that starts the post-season trek.
"We've got a lot to build on,'' said Juergens, "but I'm definitely not content.''
QC college men
Elmhurst 31, Augustana 11
125: Jake Scholten, Augie, major decision over Miguel Venecia, 22-7.
133: Dalton Bullard, EC, pinned Jimmy Panozzo, :59.
141: Ryan Early, EC, beat Hector Ruiz, Augie, 8-0.
149: Walter Piech, Augie, beat Jim Spangler, 7-6.
157: Nick DiNarto, EC, beat Kevin Sundberg, 3-0.
165: Yousef Al-Ghoul, EC, beat Connor Cummings, 4-1.
174: Danny Balderas, EC, beat Matt Burns, 7-6. – just couldn't get final takedown had ankle for last :20
184: Joe Rau, EC, pinned Thomas Reyhons, 1:09.
197: Mike Benefiel, EC, pinned Jake Melik, :52.
285: John Schraidt, Augie, beats Jack Lewis, 6-4.
Records: Elmhurst (9-1) is ranked 2nd in NCAA Division III while Augustana (13-4) is 27th.
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