Kearney, Neb. – The now 12th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team placed 15 individuals in the top six at the annual Viking-Warrior Open Saturday in Fremont.
This was UNK’s first event since the Holiday Break. A busy week continues as the Loper varsity heads to Ft. Wayne, Ind., for the NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals (Jan. 4-5). Brackets will be released early next week. The rest of UNK will remain home and compete in the Hastings College Cusatis Open (Jan. 6).
Winning their respective weight classes today were senior Bryce Shoemaker (133 lbs.), juniors Trey Schlender (197 lbs.) and Zach Stodden (174 lbs.), sophomore Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Matt Malcom (157 lbs.). Coming in second was junior Chance Bila (197 lbs.), sophomore Tevin Briscoe (141 lbs.) and true freshman Brayden Wills (157 lbs.).
In his first action of the 2017-18 season, Shoemaker (Baldwin City, Kan.) had a fall at 1:29 and a 6-4 decision over Chadron State’s Chance Karst. Now ranked eighth in Division II, Shoemaker didn’t have to take the mat in the title match, winning by default over unattached Godwin Cutler.
Defending national champion and three-time All-American Keith Surber (Sparta, Ill.) also saw his first action of the year and came in fourth at 149 pounds. He had two bonus point victories but lost, by disqualification, to Augustana’s Keaten Schorr in the semifinals. The top-ranked Surber then forfeited the third place bout.
Another Loper making his season debut was Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.), a transfer from Iowa. He had a tech fall and major before getting by Bruce Lemon of Augie, 5-3, in the semis. Malcom then won by default over Wills (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) who went 2-0 on the day.
At 174 pounds, Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.) beat two wrestlers from NAIA power Grand View (Ia.) and Augie’s Hunter Haman, 8-5, to win. Top-ranked Dylan Blackford of GVU defaulted to Stodden, ranked 12th in D2, in the first place match.
Two classes higher, Schlender (Kearney) and Bila (Chadron) reached the championship bout with junior Corey Van Dorn (Orange Park, Fla.) wrestling for fifth place. Schlender won by forfeit with Van Dorn forfeiting to Loper newcomer Jace LaCaille (Georgetown, Texas). LaCaille wrestled unattached and had two falls on the day.
Finally, Hinrichs (Geneva) had two falls among his four wins. In the finals, he beat Cooper Thomas of Grand View, 3-2. Thomas is ranked eighth in the NAIA.