Kearney, Neb. – The third-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team went 5-1 in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division II Championships Friday afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio. The two-day meet includes four sessions; the second begins at 4:00 p.m. Central on Friday. Senior Calvin Ochs (165 lbs.), junior Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.) and sophomores Wesley Dawkins (133 lbs.), Matt Malcom (157 lbs.) and Josh Portillo (125 lbs.) all won their first match to stay on the front side of the bracket. Senior Zach Stodden (174 lbs.), facing the second seed in his class, dropped a close match and fell to the consolation side. In the team race, UNK has tallied 8.0 points to be in seventh place. Top-ranked St. Cloud State is in first (15.5) with Cleveland-based Notre Dame College (15.0) a close second. Among the teams just ahead of the Lopers is MIAA rival Lindenwood (fourth/9.5). Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.), the top seed at his weight, had three takedowns and nearly 2:00 minutes of riding time to beat veteran and seventh-ranked Nick Boggs of Lake Erie (Ohio), 8-1. He’ll face upset minded Kevin Almond of upstart Emmanuel (Ga.) in the next round.
Another dominating performance came from Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) who had two takedowns and a 2-point near fall to best Robert Campos of NDC, 8-3. Fifth-ranked Cole Jones of Minnesota State-Moorhead is up next. Wrestling in his first national meet, Dawkins (Lincoln H.S.) breezed by MIAA-rival John Feeney of Central Missouri, 16-1 (6:49). To record just his second tech fall of the year, Dawkins had eight points in the first round and three takedowns. Region rival D’andre Brumfield of CSU-Pueblo is his next foe; Dawkins was pinned in the Super Regional final by Brumfield, a former Loper, two weeks ago. Ochs (Hoxie, Kan.) followed Dawkins lead and had his first tech fall of the winter, a 17-2 (6:50) decision over Nick Giantono from Newberry (S.C.). Ochs had two takedowns and a 4-point near fall in the first period and then managed six more points in the third to close things out. He faces Adams State’s Korey Windham in the next round.
Ochs’ only loss this year came in the Central Regional final to Windham, 5-4 (TB-3). Finally on the championship side, Hinrichs (Genvea) had a workmanlike performance to get past sixth-ranked Jacob Robb of Mercyhurst (Pa.), 4-1. Hinrichs used a penalty point and escape to open up a 2-0 lead and then a late takedown opened up some breathing room. Tristen Weirich, of tourney host Ashland (Ohio), is his next foe. On the backside, Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.) got out to a 2-0 lead over third-ranked Kolton Eischens of St. Cloud State. However, Eischens tallied the final four points including a takedown with 22 seconds left in the second period. To stay alive in the tournament Stodden has to defeat Damon Greenwald of Seton Hill (Pa.). A win there and he’ll likely face Robert Gambrell of Colorado Mines, a wrestler he beat by a 6-4 score during the regular season.