Kearney, Neb. – The third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team has placed four in the semifinals at the 2019 NCAA Division II Championships in Cleveland, Ohio .The two-day meet, co-hosted by Ashland University and the Cleveland Sports Commission, began Friday morning. UNK went 5-1 in the first session to be in seventh place in the team race.
Already securing All-American recognition and finishing no worse than eighth in their respective weight class are junior Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and sophomores Wesley Dawkins (133 lbs.), Matt Malcom (157 lbs.) and Josh Portillo (125 lbs.). Bowing out with two losses are seniors Calvin Ochs (165 lbs.) and Zach Stodden (174 lbs.).
UNK is now sixth in the team race with 37.5 points. Top-ranked St. Cloud State (56.50) is pulling away with four others between 39.50-50.0 points.
Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) reached his semifinals thanks to a takedown and a 4-point near fall in a 14-9 win over Minnesota State-Moorhead’s Cole Jones. Portillo, now 31-6, tallied the first six points before Jones tried to rally but Portillo scored five more points in the third to advance. He’ll now take on top-ranked and Bennington native Brett Velasquez of St. Cloud. The two met earlier this year in the National Duals with Portillo falling 5-4. Last year at the NCAA’s Portillo upset Velasquez in the second round, 9-5.
One class higher Dawkins (Lincoln H.S.) avenged a Super Region VI finals loss to D’andre Brumfield of Colorado State-Pueblo. Like Portillo, Dawkins got out quickly, using a takedown and a 2-point near fall to never trail. His 6-1 win including riding time and pushed his overall record to 26-9. Up next is Hunter Bray of Notre Dame (Ohio) College.
Next, Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.) pushed his winning streak to 18 in a row with another crushing performance. The top-seeded and No. 1 ranked wrestler at 157 pounds had eight near fall points in the first period alone and went on to tech fall Emmanuel’s Kevin Almond, 17-2 (7:00). Ninth-ranked Nate Smalling from McKendree (Ill.) awaits in the final four.
Finally on the front side, Hinrichs (Geneva) recorded a takedown 13 seconds into overtime to edge Tristen Weirich, 5-3, of Ashland. Weirich was dinged for a penalty point early on, giving Hinrichs a 2-0 lead. Weirch tied things up with a three-point third period but couldn’t stop Hinrichs from moving to 34-7 on the season. Top-seed Terrance Fanning (Wheeling Jesuit, W.V.) is his next foe.
Ochs (Hoxie, Kan.), ranked No. 1 nationally for most of the year at 165 pounds, fell to nemesis Korey Windham of Adams State and Matthew Rodriguez-Kirkland of Limestone (S.C.) to be eliminated from the tournament.
Finishing up his final campaign at 13-3, Ochs tried to avenge an OT loss to Windham in the Super Region VI finals but again fell up just short, 2-1. Windham’s points came on two escapes; he won the first meeting between the two 5-4 (TB-3). Ochs trailed 5-3 in the next match but had riding time and was down to start the third period. However, Rodriguez-Kirkland erased the riding time and then racked up eight near fall points to advance.
Finally, Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.) wrapped up a two-time All-American career with a 10-4 setback to Damon Greenwald of Seton Hill (Pa.). The five-year Loper ends this year at 14-14 and managed 98 wins in his career. The third session begins Saturday at 9 a.m. Central with finals set for Saturday at 6 p.m. Central.