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Regional champions again: Lopers repeat at home

For the third time in his career Matt Malcom qualified for the NCAA DII National Championships.


Number two is twice as nice.

The UNK Wrestling team sure thinks so as they picked up their second straight regional championship in front of their home crowd. Finishing over forty points ahead of second-place Western Colorado with a score of 148.

“Honestly these tournaments are tough on the heart for a coach,” said UNK coach Dalton Jenson. “There’s positivity, we were expected on paper to qualify seven and we got those threw.”

The seven wrestlers the Lopers qualified were one more than they got to the National Tournament a season ago.

“I think we look really good today,” said 133 pounder Wesley Dawkins. “Seven is a good number, I think it’s enough to get the job done at Nationals.”

UNK’s 125 pounder Josh Portillo (Clarion, Iowa) got the Lopers started on the right foot.

In the championship, he avenged an earlier season loss to Patrick Allis of Western Colorado, winning 11-4 and picking up his second straight regional crown.

At 133, Dawkins (Lincoln, Nebraska) became UNK’s second regional champion.

In the semifinal, he came face to face with defending champion at 133, D’andre Brumfield of Colorado State-Pueblo. In a hotly contested match throughout, Dawkins walked away with a narrow 7-6 decision.

“I was a little upset last year because it was a goal to get both trophies,” Dawkins said. “It motivated me, and I got it down this year.”

After a huge win, Dawkins carried the same intensity into the final where he pinned Jonathan Andreatta of Adams State in 31 seconds.

The Loper’s lone third-place finisher was Jonathan Killingsworth (Lincoln, Nebraska) at 141 pounds. He bounced back from a semifinal loss to Noah Hermosillo of Adams State to reach the third and fourth place match.

He went up against Jason Hanenberg the regional runner-up last season from Western Colorado. Killingsworth got an early takedown in the match, which helped him to a 4-2 win and a spot in the National Tournament.

“Jonny Killingsworth is probably the standout in my mind right now,” Jensen said. “He was in a cast three days ago and we cut it off and threw him out today and he qualified in a very tough weight class.”

In just his first semester on campus, Sam Turner (Colorado Springs, Colorado) was able to qualify by winning at 149 pounds.

In a defensive affair, Turner squeaked out a 2-0 win over Chase Clasen of Chadron State in the title match.

Coming into the day, it was safe to say the odds were not stacked in favor of Jacob Wasser (Kintnersville, Pennsylvania) at 157.

He rose to the occasion and beat the odds, by becoming the master of the come from behind victory. 

Not once but twice, he was trailing with under a minute to go in the final period and found a way to win. He ended up claiming gold after Payton Tawater of Colorado Mesa forfeited.

At 165 pounds, Matt Malcom (Glenwood, Iowa) put a solid performance together and finished second.

In the title bout against Fred Green of Colorado Mesa, it was tight throughout. At the end of three periods, it was 6-6, but due to ride time Green was awarded an extra point that sealed the 7-6 upset.

Peaking at the right time is Jarrod Hinrichs at 285 pounds. The senior from Geneva, Nebraska won his second regional championship of his career.

He faced a highly touted Weston Hunt of Colorado School of Mines for the title. A takedown decided the match for the Loper heavyweight in a 3-1 decision.

UNK is going for their fourth National Championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on March 13 and 14.

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