Kearney, Neb. – The 14th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team scored 111 points to place second at the Super Region IV/West Regionals Saturday in Las Vegas, New Mexico.
The two-day, 15-team tournament was hosted by New Mexico Highlands with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to the NCAA Division II Championships March 9-10 in Cedar Rapids, Ia.
Winning their weight classes were senior Bryce Shoemaker (133 lbs.) and sophomore Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) with redshirt freshman Josh Portillo coming in second (125 lbs.) and junior Zach Stodden (174 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Matt Malcom (157 lbs.) finishing in third place.
Senior Keith Surber (149 lbs.) and junior Trey Schlender (197 lbs.) each competed in true fourth places matches Saturday night but both were pinned and saw their season come to an end. On Friday, three other Lopers suffered their second defeat of the tournament to be eliminated.
UNK just missed out on the regional title as California Baptist tallied 114.5 points. The Lancers will begin the move into Division I next season. Adams State (94.0) was a distant third with Colorado State-Pueblo fourth (84.5).
At 125 pounds, Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) fell to top-ranked and unbeaten Eli Hale of Central Oklahoma, 16-4, in the finals. The South Dakota State transfer is now 10-5 on the year. One class higher, the 11th-ranked Shoemaker (Baldwin City, Kan.) improved to 18-3 by edging sixth-ranked Nate Cervantes of San Francisco State, 3-1. Shoemaker recorded a takedown with 12 seconds left in the match and then Cervantes was docked for stalling.
A three-time All-American, Surber (Sparta, Ill.) fell to ASU’s Natrelle Demison, 5-2, before bouncing back and pinning John Daniel of Colorado Mesa at 4:22. Demison beat New Mexico Highlands veteran Reis Humphrey for third place, allowing Surber one more chance to reach nationals. However, Humphrey was up 5-4 when he pinned Surber at 5:35. One of 11 Lopers to be a three-time All-American, Surber ends with 85 wins as a Loper.
At 157 pounds, Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.) pinned Simon Fraser’s Cody Osborne and then majored Ryan Cokeley of Fort Hays State, 10-2, to finish third. The University of Iowa transfer is now 17-5 heading into the NCAA’s.
Reaching the NCAA’s for a second time, the 12th-ranked Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.) bested an 11th-ranked Bruno Nicoletti of Colorado Mesa, 5-1, for third. Stodden is now 30-12 on the year and has 82 career wins as a Loper.
Next, Schlender (Kearney) lost to Rakim Dean of Fort Hays State, 8-4, but bounced back to best Anthony Lodermeier of Colorado Mesa, 8-1, to reach the 197 pound true fourth place match. There, he trailed 4-1 before CBU’s Zach Stang pinned him at 2:07. The two-year starter ends the year at 27-11.
Finally, Hinrichs (Geneva) keeps rolling along, now 38-7 after a 5-2 win over fourth-ranked Caleb Cotter of Central Oklahoma. In the rubber match between the two this year, Hinrichs tallied two takedowns in the third period to win.
Hinrichs will try and become the fifth Loper with 40 wins in a season when he wrestles at the NCAA’s. The other Lopers to reach that mark are two-time Olympian Tervel Dlagnev (285 lbs./2006 and 2007), Marty Usman (174 lbs./2009 and 2010), T.J. Hepburn (149 lbs./2010) and Joe Ellenberger (157 lbs./2007).