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The Lakeland College wrestling team took fifth place at the Al Hanke Invite hosted by Elmhurst College on Saturday, Jan. 19, thanks in part to the efforts of junior Jonas Flok, who took home the Muskies lone individual championship of the day in the 157-pound division.
The Muskies finished with 64.5 points just behind fourth-place Chicago, who had 68.0 points, while Olivet College, ranked No. 17 in the nation, took first place with 121.0 points.
"Overall, they exceeded expectations," said head coach Pete Rogers. "The fifth-place finish was great for us, and I was really happy with the way the guys we had wrestled. You can't ask for much better when you don't wrestle in three weight classes."
Rogers had three of his top wrestlers, senior Paul Hartt, junior Kory Theil and sophomore Adam Sutter, sit out the meet to ensure that they remain healthy for bigger meets later on this season.
Flok, who was the No. 1 seed in his division at the invite, breezed through his three matches after a first-round bye on the way to his first-ever meet championship. He kicked off the day by pinning Dan Stafford of Knox College in 5:29, then he defeated No. 4 seeded Sheldon Hubbard of Elmhurst, 7-1, to make it into the championship match against No. 2 seeded Jacob Mango of Augustana College. Flok pinned Mango for the win in 3:12.
"Jonas wrestled excellent," Rogers said. "He just keeps competing and getting better and better all the time."
Juniors David Copp and Ben Chapman also put forth solid efforts in their respective weight classes, as both reached the third-place championship match.
Copp, seeded No. 5 in the 125 division, took out Olivet's Blair Mellish, 2-1, in his first match-up, then fell to No. 1 seeded Jake Oster of Elmhurst in the semifinals on a pin in 2:34. Copp battled back to take out No. 7 seeded Jacob Santiago, 7-4, before falling to No. 3 seeded Kyle Labrecque of Olivet in the third-place championship match, 4-0.
Chapman, the No. 3 seed of the 149 division, fought a similar battle as Copp, winning his first two matches, 9-0 over Olivet's Matt McNeil, and 6-5 over Harper's Lawrence Manns. He then fell to No. 2 seeded Justin Berns of Concordia, Minn., on a pin in 3:10 to bump him out of the championship bracket. Chapman would win one more match in the third-place bracket, defeating Chicago's Chris Oster, but he was unable to wrestle in the championship match due to an injury.
Senior heavyweight Matt Benson and junior 197-pounder Everett Wood also fought tough battles on the mat at the invite as each ended the day at 3-2.
Benson took the fifth-place championship over Adam Westby of Concordia, Minn. on a pin in 2:50, while Wood fell in the fifth-place title match to No. 3 seeded Bob Hohn of Elmhurst in 1:56.
"It was great for Everett and Matt to come into the tournament and be able to place since they don't get to compete a lot," said Rogers, as it is normally Hartt and Sutter who compete in the 197 and 285 divisions, respectively. "Matt Benson wrestled very tough and went down to the wire in the fifth-place match."
Sophomore 165-pounder Jacob Frias and freshman 184-pounder Gary Pieper also competed, with Frias going 3-2 while Pieper was 0-2 for the day.
The Muskies will host their final home match of the year with a dual meet against Lawrence University on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Meet time is set for 7 p.m.