Thursday, February 24, 2022

Upper Midwest Regional Preview - DIII - (February 25th-26th, 2022)


Unlike some of the other Regionals in NCAA Division III wrestling where a majority of the teams have a shot at NCAA DIII qualification, the Upper Midwest Regional is completely dominated by the top half teams.  While there are 18 teams, 11  are at least in my estimation going to get wrestlers on through to nationals.  

125 lbs 

These are the gentlemen I see placing in the top three at the Upper Midwest Regional and qualifying for the NCAA DIII Championships.  Whether he finishes 1st or 2nd, I'm pretty confident that Isaac Wiegel of UW-Platteville will finish ahead of Luc Valdez of UW-Oshkosh as he has five wins against him already.  4-1, 6-1, 7-4 & two 5-2 decisions.  Our other top three place-winner/qualifier should be Derek Steele of Augsburg.

133 lbs 

There's a probable possibility of our final being between UW-Stevens Point's Matt Berlin an NCAA DIII qualifier in 2020 & UW-Eau  Claire's Tyler Fleetwood.  Berlin owns a 12-3 major over Fleetwood.  I think that there could be a chance at a upset out of Zach Thompson of UW-Platteville or Ethan Harsted of Wheaton.  Although Fleetwood has a 12-4 major over Thompson, Thompson has also kept it very close with him in a 3-2 decision.  Harsted who was an NCAA DIII qualifier in 2020, wrestled Berlin to a 4-1 decision.  The other player here to not over look is Concordia's (MN) Ty Bisek.  

141 lbs 

If I were a betting man, I'd bet on Jimmy McAuliffe of Elmhurst, Sam Stuhl of Augsburg & Zach Sato of UW-Eau Claire on being our top three place-winners/NCAA DIII qualifiers. Now ask me if there is anyone going to steal a spot from one of those three?  Dakarai Clay of UW-Whitewater could. 

149 lbs 

With Brock Parker of UW-Platteville likely to take the #1 seed, the fight for our silver & bronze medals with be a battle of the Jakes.  Jake Buford of UW-Whitewater, Jake Drexler of UW-Eau Claire & Jake Mandt of UW-La Crosse.  Parker owns a 10-4 decision over Mandt, as Buford squeaked by Drexler in their last meeting 5-4.  I think the real battle for NCAA DIII qualification could come between Drexler and Mandt.  In all close matches, Mandt has won 4-2 sudden victory & 6-5, Vs a 2-0 victory for Drexler.   Four good wrestlers, three of them go, one stays home. 

157 lbs 

Like at 141 lbs, I think who our top three place-winners/qualifiers will be is pretty set in stone, but as they say, we don't wrestle on paper, we wrestle on a mat.  Augsburg's Tyler Shilson, third in the NWCA last season, will most likely face UW-La Crosse's Nolan Hertel in the Upper Midwest Regional final.  Shilson owns a 5-3 victory over Hertel.  Our likely candidate for third place, is UW-Stevens Point's Luke Smiley.  Hertel has defeated Smiley twice by scores of 4-0 & 11-3.  If there is anyone that can possibly steal a spot here, I believe that someone is Florida native Darian Estevez of Chicago.  Estevez wrestled Smiley to a 3-2 decision. 

165 lbs 

I think we're looking at a Upper Midwest Regional champion when we look at Seth Brossard of UW-La Crosse.  Thus far he's pinned Chase Schmidt of UW-Eau Claire in 4:27 & He's defeated Brandon Peckham of UW-Stevens Point 8-4.  Now the fun will be the semi-final between Schmidt and Peckham.  In some wild matches Schmidt has won 4-2, 12-11 & 7-6 tiebreaker decisions, whereas Peckham has won a 5-3 decision.  Look for the loser, to come back and take a strong 3rd. 

174 lbs 

This is an extremely tough weight class.  We have four of the top 12 wrestlers in the nation plus two other very talented wrestlers, for a total of six that will be fighting tooth & nail for a spot in the top three.  Ben Sarasin of Chicago was 7th at the 2019 NCAA DIII's & I honestly think he has a shot at winning a DIII title this season, but he has to get past Solomon Nielsen of Augsburg just to win an Upper Midwest Regional title first.  He defeated Nielsen, last season's NWCA Runner-up, 6-5.  Sarasin also owns a 7-1 decision over Ryan Vender of UW-Whitewater. 

Nielsen is likely to be Sarasin's opponent in the finals. He pinned Luke Silva of Aurora in 5:00 & also owns a 10-7 victory over him.  Then Jared Stricker of UW-Eau Claire has always wrestled him tough, but has yet to get any offense going as Nielsen has won 5-1 & 5-2 decisions.  Nielsen also owns a 15-4 major over Nick Dado of UW-Plattville. 

Vender's testimony here is a 3-2 decision that he has over Stricker, and then of course Dado's testimony is his 3-2 victory over Vender.  

184 lbs 

Now this is one competitive weight class.  We have five of the top 16 guys in NCAA DIII wrestling & what a miscarriage of justice it is that only three of them will be going to DIII nationals.   

We have two time NCAA DIII qualifier Jarrit Shinhoster of UW-Whitewater.  He was a 7-0 victory over Kalyn Jahn of UW-La Crosse & he's pinned Evan Lawrence of UW-Eau Claire on two occasions. 

Augsburg's Nick Rogge who was 5th in the NWCA last season, has split with Jahn, winning a 3-1 decision but losing a 5-4 decision. 

Jahn owns a 9-3 decision over Lawrence who was an NCAA DIII qualifier in 2020. 

Then if that ain't enough, we also have Chicago's Maguire Pecci in the mix. 

197 lbs 

I believe these will be our three top three place winners/NCAA qualifier.  Beau Yineman has pinned Isaac Lahr of UW-La Crosse twice & for what it's worth, Lahr and Augsburg's Bentely Schwanebeck-Osterman have only met once in their careers & it was Lahr who earned a 16-0 technical fall.  Schwanebeck-Osterman was 6th at last year's NWCA. 


And perhaps we end on the toughest weight class in the Upper Midwest Regional, HWT, with 5 wrestlers ranked in the top 12, four of which on paper, predicted to be NCAA DIII All Americans.  Only three of these guys get to go to the NCAA DIII tournament. Absolute travesty that two have to stay home. 

Ben Kawczysnski (Sorry about the spelling above) of UW- La Crosse is the forerunner for a title here, but it's not a given.  Jordan Lemcke of UW-Oshkosh has given him two close matches 6-4 & 2-0 & Tyler Kim of Augsburg has also challenged him in 4-3 & 2-0 matches. Not to Mention Caden Koeppel of UW-Whitewater gave him a decent 5-2 match. 

Lemcke a 2020 NCAA DIII qualifier is 1-2 Vs Mason Hawkins of UW-Eau Claire.  He owns a 4-2 sudden victory, but has dropped both 9-3 & 4-3 decisions.  Against Kim he is 2-0, with 8-3 & 4-0 decisions. A 3-1 decision over Koeppel. 

Hawkins has split with Kim, who was the NWCA runner-up last season.  Hawkins won 3-1 & Kim won 4-3. Hawkins also has a 3-2 victory over Koeppel. 

There should be a law against weight classes being this competitive. 

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