The Student News Site of University of Nebraska at Kearney

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Loper wrestling pins down national runner-up title


The UNK Wrestling team qualified all 10 of their wrestlers for the national championships back at regionals on Feb. 28. As a result, they were in the best position of any team to win the national championship. 

The team has been focused the past few weeks in practice.

“They’ve been focused and they’ve been ready to go,” said head coach Dalton Jensen. “Obviously, there’s a little distraction of knowing that they have to deal with these (COVID-19) tests. Overall, they are very focused, and they are excited that they are bringing their whole team with them to go compete for a national title.”

There have been many COVID-19 protocols the team has had to face as they are now in the national spotlight. The team has been practicing social distancing in preparation for the national meet. 

“We’ve tried to mitigate as much as possible and limit the amount of people that they are around,” Jensen said. “If these guys have had the opportunity to do class online the last couple of weeks they’ve taken advantage of that. It’s been tough, but these guys have been really resilient and just want the opportunity to compete.”

The NCAA championships started on Friday for the Lopers. Nine out of the ten Lopers became All-Americans. Wesley Dawkins at 133 lbs. and Matt Malcom at 165 lbs. were the UNK wrestlers to advance to the semifinals. 

The semifinal opportunity set up a rematch for Malcom against Colorado Mesa’s Fred Green, who Malcom lost to in regionals.

“(Green) is definitely a good competitor,” Jensen said. “Those two guys are some of the best wrestlers in Division II right now. Sometimes a loss can be a good thing, it kind of helps ground you a little bit and gets you refocused.”

The Lopers went into Saturday with 58 points, followed closely by St. Cloud State with 51.5 points. Green went on to defeat Malcom 1-10, and he went on to win the 165 lb. championship. Malcom finished fifth and scored 11.5 team points.

Dawkins lost in the semifinals to Tyler Warner of West Liberty 0-11. Dawkins then had a rematch from the regionals against Patrick Allis of Western Colorado. He won over Allis once again as Dawkins won by a pinfall. Dawkins finished fourth for the Lopers with 15.5 team points. 

Joseph Reimers led in team scoring for the Lopers with 18.5 team points as he finished fourth at 197 lbs. Sam Turner at 149 lbs., Austin Eldredge at 184 lbs. and Lee Herrington at 285 lbs. each finished fourth. 

The Lopers also had a multitude of wrestlers who finished in seventh place. Nick James at 141 lbs., Jacob Wasser at 157 lbs. and Terrell Garraway at 174 lbs. each placed seventh. The Lopers finished the meet with 105.5 points and nobody competed in the championship round.

St. Cloud State entered the championship round with four wrestlers, and only one of them needed to win to capture the team national championship. With their first three wrestlers losing, it came down to St. Cloud State’s Kameron Teacher at 285 lb. championship. 

Teacher went up against Weston Hunt of Colorado School of Mines. In a close match, Teacher fended off Hunt to win the match 6-5. St. Cloud State won the national championship with a score of 107 points.. 

Although the Lopers finished as national runners-up, they still have their focus set on next year.

“The NCAA gave everyone a year back and all our seniors, as of right now, are saying that they want to come back,” Jensen said. “Things can obviously change between now and next year, but as of right now they have all told me they want to come back.”

This was UNK’s sixth national runner-up finish in school history, and the outlook for next year is very promising for the Lopers to be in the national championship discussion once again. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Antelope

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Nebraska at Kearney . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
Donate to The Antelope

Comments (0)

All The Antelope Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *