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Four individual championship titles helped the Lakeland College wrestling team power its way to its first Northern Wrestling Association title on Saturday, Feb. 16, at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Watertown, Wis.
Senior Paul Hartt (197), sophomore Adam Sutter (285) and juniors Ben Chapman (149) and Jonas Flok (157) all snagged championship match victories in their respective weight classes, while juniors David Copp (125), Kory Theil (133) and sophomore Jake Frias (165) each took second place as Lakeland blasted away the competition with 140.0 team points over second-place Milwaukee School of Engineering (93.0).
The Muskies have been close to winning the conference title in previous years, taking second in 2007, but finally had their efforts validated this season.
"As a coach, I'm relieved that we finally won it," said head coach Pete Rogers, who was named the NWA Coach of the Year. "I'm happy everyone wrestled so well and the right time for us to win the championship."
Hartt, ranked No. 3 in the nation in the 197 division, dominated the competition with two pins and a 15-4 win over Adam Schultz of Concordia University, Wis., in the championship match.
Sutter, ranked No. 7 at 285 pounds, would have faced his own teammate, senior Matt Benson, in the heavyweight championship match. However, Benson was forced to forfeit, giving Sutter the title. However, Lakeland still scored major points in the heavyweight division, as freshmen Jason Polcyn and Bill Wood finished third and fourth, respectively, giving the Muskies the 1-2-3-4 sweep of the weight class.
Flok fought his way through an overtime thriller in his championship match, fighting close with Milwaukee School of Engineering's Joel VandeBoom before securing the 10-4 victory. Chapman also fought in some close matches, securing a narrow 5-4 championship victory over CUW's Joe Massman, and a 3-2 semifinal victory over Lawrence's Tony Norton.
"Ben had a heck of a day even though he was somewhat beat up," Rogers said, as Chapman was nursing a sore neck. "Even though some of his matches were close, he controlled them well, wrestled hard and fought through them all."
Copp started off the day on the right track with two pins in the opening rounds before falling to MSOE's Sammy Deligio, 8-7, in a tough overtime battle. Frias battled with Lawrence University's Sam Laes in his championship match after pinning CUW's Josh Nord in 2:53 in the semifinal match, but fell 7-4. Theil won his semifinal match, 13-2, but fell in the division championship to MSOE's Virgil Pope, 7-3.
"David, Kory and Jake all wrestled close matches with people they had beat before," Rogers said. "Even though they couldn't get things to go their way, it was still good to see that they left it all out there on the mat."
Juniors Sam Copp (133) and JD Sylvanus (184) and freshmen Levi Hackler (165) and Derek Flok (133) also contributed, as each finished in third place in their respective weight classes.
The Muskies will continue their season next Saturday, Feb. 23, with the Great Lakes Regional Tournament hosted by St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn.
"I think we're doing the right things at the right time," Rogers said. "Our guys are heading into regionals with the right frame of mind, and hopefully we can continue to do well."
Start time for the Great Lakes Regional is set for 9 a.m.