Kearney, Neb. – The 14th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team has seven individuals remaining after the first day of the West Regionals in Las Vegas, N.M.
The 15-team tournament is 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.
Placing seven in the semifinals, the Lopers have tallied 85.50 points to trail only fourth-ranked California Baptist (94.50) in the team race. No. 19 Western State (69.0) and Adams State (66.5) are well behind in third and fourth place, respectively.
Reaching the finals Saturday afternoon are senior Bryce Shoemaker (133 lbs.), sophomore Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Josh Portillo (125 lbs.). Hoping to finish third are senior Keith Surber (149 lbs.), juniors Trey Schlender (197 lbs.) and Zach Stodden (174 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Matt Malcom (157 lbs.).
Losing twice on Friday and thus seeing their season end were junior Isaac Deaton (184 lbs.), sophomore Tevin Briscoe (141 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Talon Seitz (165 lbs.). Briscoe (Garden City, Kan.) was injured in his first round match and had to medically forfeit out of the tourney.
At 125 pounds, the sixth-ranked Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) pinned ASU’s Darek Huff at 5:27 and then edged Western’s Trenton Piatt, 11-10, thanks to six points in the third period. Up next is No. 1 ranked Eli Hale of Central Oklahoma.
Shoemaker (Baldwin City, Kan.), ranked 11th at 133 pounds, moved to 17-3 on the year thanks to fall in just 1:01 and a 10-1 major. He’ll face sixth-ranked Nathan Cervantes of San Francisco State in his finals bout.
Hinrichs (Geneva), the nation’s fifth-ranked heavyweight, is up to a gaudy 37-7 thanks to three wins today. He had a fall in 3:55 in round two and will battle fourth-ranked Caleb Cotter of UCO for first place. This will be the rubber match between the two this year.
Among other Lopers, Deaton (Valdez, Alaska) fell to third-ranked Nick Fiegener (CBU) and 10th-ranked Noel Torres (Newman), Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.) lost to second-ranked Nolan Kistler (CBU) in the semis and Seitz (Hilton Head, SC) couldn’t upset fourth-ranked Christian Smith (CBU) in the quarters.
Next, for the third time this season Surber (Sparta, Ill.) didn’t solve fourth-ranked Efe Osaghae of Fort Hays State, losing 2-1 in the semis. Finally, Malcom battled Newman veteran Tyler Mies in the 157 pound semis before falling 12-8 in the first sudden victory period with Schlender (Kearney) losing to No. 1 ranked Morgan Smith of Canada’s Simon Fraser University.
The consolation semis stat Saturday at 11 a.m. Central with the finals and placing matches beginning at 1 p.m. Central.