Willson wins title at Midlands; Lights dominate Dana
The Emmett Willson victory tour continued with a run through the Midwest this past week. Willson is making the most of his senior year, winning two more tournaments and, like his team, remaining unbeaten on the season.
While Willson continued his dominance, the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team remained undefeated in dual matches this season with a decisive 37-12 win over Dana College on Friday and a dominant performance in the Dana College Open on Saturday in Dana, Neb.
In his growing list of accomplishments, Willson added a very large jewel by winning the 197-pound division at the prestigious Midlands Championship in Evanston, Ill., last week.
Facing some of the best competition in the country, Willson won five straight matches, including a 9-6 decision over Matt Monteiro of Cal State-Bakersfield in the championship, to capture the title.
"Emmett just wrestled solid," said Lights head coach David Ray. "His mentality is right where it needs to be. When you step onto the mat, you have to believe you are going to win and that's what Emmett does."
Willson opened with an 8-3 win over Nick Thomas of Penn and a pin of Northern Illinois' Greg Reardon to advance to the quarterfinals. In the quarters, he cruised past Lockhaven's Morgan Horner, and defeated Matt Greenberg of Cornell, 6-1, in the semifinals, setting up the showdown with Monteiro.
"Monteiro is a solid wrestler," Ray said. "He defeated (Damion) Hahn, the No. 1 in the NCAA in that division in Las Vegas. He also beat (Chris) Stretkowicz, who was No. 1 in Division II. But the final match wasn't as close as the score looked. Emmett set the tone early in all his matches and worked hard from there.
"Emmett did a good job of controlling the matches and dominating in all phases. It's a great accomplishment for him. Northern's never had an individual champ in this tournament."
Willson's performance could also lead to a chance to compete at an even more prestigious event - the National Coaches Wrestling Association All-Star Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Feb. 2.
"They take the top two athletes in the country at each weight class," Ray said. "Emmett is clearly the top wrestler at 197 pounds. His performance has proven that. He's a true competitor. He competes for the challenge of the sport. It isn't about personal glory or any of the other stuff. It's just about competing."
Willson wasn't the only Northern wrestler competing at Midlands. Six other wrestlers made the trip, with four wrestlers picking up wins.
Senior Caleb Schaeffer finished 3-2 on the weekend and just missed out on placing in the top eight. Schaeffer took a tough loss against Matt Sanchez of Cal State-Bakersfield in the Round of 32. He led 5-1 early in the match before Sanchez rallied. With the score tied at eight, Sanchez got an escape to go up one. Schaeffer came close to getting a double leg-takedown with 20 seconds remaining to take the lead, but Sanchez held out for the win. Schaeffer bounced back to win two matches in the wrestlebacks before being knocked out of the tournament by Kortney Lake of Adams State.
"Caleb wrestled very smart this weekend," Ray said. "He was very close to placing in the top eight."
Chris Smith (141) and Stryder Davis (157) finished with 2-2 records in the tournament. Smith lost his opening match to Mike Keefe of Tennessee-Chattanooga, but rallied for a pair of wins in the wrestlebacks before falling to Roberto Vargas of Cal-Bakersfield.
Davis dropped his first-round match to Matt McCarty of Michigan State 3-2, but won a pair of wrestlebacks over two very tough opponents before losing out.
Anthony Haukenberry also had a big win in the tournament. After losing to Rob Hitschler of Penn in the first round, Haukenberry defeated a very good wrestler in Dana Holland of Arizona State in his first wrestleback.
Northern's other wrestlers, Jesse Juarez and Emory Willson, each finished with 0-2 records. But Ray was far from disappointed with either.
"Emory is just a freshman and we knew it would be tough for him," Ray said. "Jesse hasn't wrestled a match since November 15. He had his chances to win both matches, but he looked a little rusty."
Former Northern standout Tyson Thivierge also competed in the tournament for the Chattanooga Wrestling Club. Thivierge, who is a grad assistant for former Northern assistant Terry Brands at Tennessee-Chattanooga, finished fourth at 184 pounds.
"Tyson was looking to see if he wanted to continue wrestling," Ray said. "He hadn't wrestled a regulation match since he won his national title two years ago. He was disappointed because he thought he should have won, but he finished fourth against very high-level competition after a two-year layoff."
Ray and the Midlands competitors met up with the rest of the team for the Dana dual and tournament. And the full Lights squad was dominant.
Northern lost only one match and surrendered a forfeit at 125 pounds in the dual win.
The Lights got pins from Schaeffer (133), Willson (197), David Waters (174) and Mazi Burke (197) and a major decision from Stryder Davis (157) en route to their ninth dual win of the season.
"Dana has a solid team," Ray said. "I was happy with our overall performance in the dual. We didn't wrestle great but we found ways to win."
In the Dana Open, nine Northern wrestlers place in the top four, with three wrestlers grabbing individual titles.
Schaeffer, Juarez and Willson all captured titles in their respective weight divisions. Schaeffer pinned Josh Geary of Wyoming, Juarez scored a 16-1 technical fall over Dana's Marshall Marquardt, and Willson scored a 15-5 decision over teammate Burke in their respective championship matches. Willson was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler.
Also placing was senior Kyle Fisher, who finished second at 184 pounds, losing to Frank Kuchera of Nebraska-Kearney. Davis finished third at 157, defeating teammate Ryan Hall 3-1. Smith also had a strong showing, finishing third at 141, pinning Brandon Brill of Nebraska-Kearney. Haukenberry finished fourth at 149, losing a tough 1-0 decision to rival Josh Pulsifer of Missouri Valley College.
Northern will return to action this weekend when it travels to the Dickinson State Classic in Dickinson, N.D.
133 - Caleb Schaeffer 3-2
Round of 16 - Matt Sanchez, Cal-Bakersfield dec. Schaeffer 11-8
Round of 32 - Schaeffer maj. dec. Michael Messina, Sacred Heart 12-2
Wrestleback 5 - Kortney Lake, Adams St. dec. Schaeffer 17-10
Wrestleback 4 - Schaeffer dec. Taylor Graham, Lehigh 3-1
Wrestleback 3 - Schaeffer dec. Brian Kirschbaum, Princeton 6-4
141 - Chris Smith 2-2
Pigtails - Mike Keefe, Tenn-Chattanooga dec. Smith 11-4
Wrestleback 3 - Roberto Vargas, Cal-Bakersfield maj. dec. Smith 11-0
Wrestleback 2 - Smith pinned Sam Kunkel, Chicago 4:31
Wrestleback 1 - Smith maj. dec. Mark McCauley, Lehigh 10-1
149 - Anthony Haukenberry 1-2
Wrestleback 2 - Wayne French, Tenn-Chattanooga dec. Haukenberry 5-3
Wrestleback 1 - Haukenberry dec. Dana Holland, Arizona St. 5-4
First Round - Rob Hitschler, Penn dec. Haukenberry 5-3
157 - Stryder Davis 2-2
Wrestleback 3 - Ty Morgan, Central Michigan dec. Davis 7-3
Wrestleback 2 - Davis dec. Josh Mester, Central Michigan 3-1
Wrestleback 1 - Davis dec. Jason Knipp, Iowa St. 6-1
First Round- Matt McCarty, Michigan St. dec. Davis 3-0
174 - Jesse Juarez 0-2
Round of 32 - Jed Pennell, Oregon St. dec. Juarez 2-0
Wrestleback 2 - Russ Vanderheyden, Central Michigan dec. Juarez 7-6
184 - Tyson Thivierge 3-2 (Fourth place)
Third Place - Brian Glynn, Illinois dec. Thivierge 7-6
Semifinals - Thivierge dec. Ben Heizer, Northern Illinois 6-3
Quarterfinals - Eric Bradley, Penn St. dec. Thivierge 4-2
Round of 16 - Thivierge pinned Eric Pedretti, Northern Iowa 2:35
Round of 32 - Thivierge pinned Ethan Bullock, Penn 1:53
197 - Emory Willson 0-2
Round of 32 - Anton Hall, Michigan St. pinned Willson 3:14
Wrestleback 1 - Ed Willis, Ohio U dec. Willson 6-0
197 - Emmett Willson 5-0 (Champion)
Finals - Willson dec. Matt Monteiro, Cal-Bakersfield 9-6
Semifinals - Willson dec. Matt Greenberg, Cornell 6-1
Quarterfinals - Willson Dec. Morgan Horner, Lockhaven 12-5
Round of 16 - Willson pinned Greg Reardon, Northern Illinois 5:48
Round of 32 - Willson dec. Nick Thomas, Penn 8-3
MSU-Northern 37, Dana College 12
125 - Chris Young, DC win by forfeit; 133 - Caleb Schaeffer, MSUN pinned Brian Tsutsumi 4:50; 141 - Chris Smith, MSUN dec. Ruben Leyba, 7-2; 149 - Lance Nelson, MSUN dec. Ben Henderson 7-2; 157 - Stryder Davis, MSUN maj dec. Trent Leichleiter 17-3; 165 - Lester Bowling, DC pinned Aaron Jensen 1:45; 174 - David Waters, MSUN pinned Marshall Marquardt 2:32; 184 - Kyle Fisher, MSUN dec. Chris Egan, 4-2 OT; 197 - Emmett Willson pinned Phil Dawes 2:10; HWT - Mazi Burke, MSUN pinned Ryan Tonkin 2:17.
DANA COLLEGE OPEN
133 - Caleb Schaeffer 1st, dec. Josh Geary, U. Wyoming by fall 3:00
141 - Chris Smith 3rd, dec. Brandon Brill, U. Nebraska Kearney by fall 3:30
149 - Anthony Haukenberry 4th, lost by dec. 1-0 to Josh Pulsifer, Missouri Valley College
157 - Stryder Davis 3rd, dec. 3-1 Ryan Hall, 3-1
174 - Jesse Juarez 1st, tech fall. Marshall Marquardt, Dana College 16-1 in 3:48
184 - Kyle Fisher 2nd, loss by dec. 9-3 to Frank Kuchera, U. of Nebraska-Kearney
197 - Emmett Willson 1st, dec. Mazi Burke, 15-5