Lakeland hosts Northern Wrestling Association Tournament this Saturday
Athletics - posted on 2/9/2009
The No. 30 Lakeland wrestling team hosts the Northern Wrestling Association Tournament this Saturday, Feb. 14. Matches are to begin at 10 a.m.
The Muskies are the league's defending champion, posting 140.0 points in the 2008 conference tournament, beating out runner-up MSOE, which posted 93.0 points. The win was the first NWA title in Lakeland history.
Three of Lakeland's current wrestlers won their respective championship last season. Juniors Adam Sutter (285 pounds) and Ben Chapman (149), and senior Jonas Flok (157) will defend their individual crowns this weekend.
The Muskies return to the mat following a disappointing 32-3 dual loss against UW-La Crosse last Friday at the Wehr Center.
Lakeland coach Pete Rogers believes team members have put the rough showing behind them.
"We lost matches for some weird reasons, with most of them being mental, but we straightened it out after the match," Rogers said. "I told the guys that this was the last time I would talk about the La Crosse match this season."
Sutter enters the tournament as the nation's No. 7 wrestler
with a 23-5 record at 285 pounds. The Gladstone, Mich., native has lost his last two matches, however, both at the hands of No. 2 Dan Laurent of UW-La Crosse.
One of Lakeland's most talented wrestlers, Sutter hopes to erase the memories of a sub-par postseason in 2008, where he finished out of contention in the regional tournament after beating four of the eight eventual All-Americans during the regular season.
Rogers is also excited about Lakeland's four seniors in the line-up - Flok, David Copp (125 pounds), Kory Thiel (141) and Everett Wood (197). Thiel and Copp both finished second in last year's league tournament.
"I'm excited for everyone, but there's something to be said for seniors wrestling in their final season," Rogers said. "The
fact that they are winding down their careers makes them dangerous. They've all had some tough losses this year, but they've had a few big wins as well."
At 157 pounds, Flok (Egg Harbor) enters the tournament with a 23-9 record. Flok, who picked up the Muskies' lone victory against UW-La Crosse, is listed as honorable mention by the latest d3wrestle.com individual rankings.
Copp (Oostburg) and Thiel (Crystal Lake, Ill.) are tied for the team lead with 26 victories apiece. Copp is approaching 100 career wins, and is challenging teammate Isaac Roberson (149) for the Lakeland program record for takedowns in a season.
Chapman will be wrestling at 174 after winning the conference title last season in the 149-pound division. The Plymouth native has battled injuries this season and is 5-5 on the year.
Rogers, who is in his eighth season as Lakeland's head coach, believes his squad will make a strong showing in its home gym.
"Our guys will prepare themselves this week to have a great tournament," Rogers said. "Individually, we need to do what we are capable of and get our confidence up for the regional tournament. For a lot of them, this could be their last match at Lakeland College."
The Muskies won't have to travel far for the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional
, either. The tournament will be hosted by Concordia, Wis., next Saturday, Feb. 21. First-round matches are slated for 9 a.m. in Mequon.
Here is a look at the five other teams competing in this weekend's NWA Tournament:
Concordia, Wis. (Mequon):
The Falcons enter the tournament following a 33-19 dual win over St. Olaf (Minn.) in Blair, Wis. Top wrestlers for Concordia include Joe Massman (149 pounds, 22-3), Adam Schultz (197, 11-2) and Jason Lawrence (285, 13-7). Massman is listed as a contender in the latest d3wrestle.com rankings, while Lawrence is named honorable mention.
Lakeland defeated the Falcons 38-9 back on Dec. 3 at Concordia.
Knox (Galesburg, Ill.):
The Prairie Fire enter action this Saturday after a 20th-place finish at the 31-team Pete Willson Wheaton Invitational back on Jan. 30-31. Knox was led by Edel Vaca, who placed fourth in the 133-pound division. Vaca is ranked in the honorable mention category of the latest d3wrestle.com poll.
Lawrence suffered a 54-3 defeat at the hands of No. 5 UW-Whitewater last Friday. The Vikings forfeited six of the dual's 10 matches. Tony Norton (149 pounds) captured the lone win for Lawrence. The Vikings will face UW-Oshkosh at home this Friday, Feb. 13, prior to the tournament.
Maranatha Baptist (Watertown):
Maranatha is a young, inexperienced squad which has made great strides this season under first-year head coach Doug Richards. The Crusaders are led by 165-pounder Benjamin Hoover, who finished second at the NCAA Division III Championships last season. Hoover, who has struggled with a leg injury this season, is currently ranked fourth in the d3wrestle.com poll for his weight class.
Prior to the conference tournament, Maranatha is scheduled to wrestle in a dual at Northland on Feb. 12.
The Raiders placed 26th at the Pete Willson Wheaton Invite. Joel VandeBoom was MSOE's top finisher, placing fifth in the 157-pound bracket. VandeBoom has also drawn national attention, garnering a contender ranking by d3wrestle.com.
The Muskies took down the Raiders, 38-7, on Jan. 13 at Lakeland.
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