Tuesday, February 21, 2023

2023 NCAA DIII Upper Midwest Regional Preview (Feb 24th-25th)


As I did for the Southeast Regional, I am now going to go through the Upper Midwest Regional trying to decipher who I think fight for a top 3 qualifying placement.  This a very competitive Regional where the fight to place 1st, 2nd or 3rd will be extraordinarily difficult. 

125 lbs 

Currently 16-7 on the season, Derek Steele won the Upper Midwest Regional last year & will fight to win another title this year.  He owns both a 2-0 victory over Luc Valdez of UW-Oshkosh & a 3-2 decision over Brandon Murphy of UW-La Crosse. 

Valdez, who recently won a WIAC title, is 21-8 on the season.  He owns a 3-0 over Murphy & despite every match being extremely close, he's defeated UW-Whitewater's Tyler Klein three times.  Scores were 4-2, 2-1 & 5-4 tiebreaker. 

Despite having a losing record of 14-16, Klein has kept it close in many of this matches & turning 1 & 2 point losses into victories to secure a qualification wouldn't be all that shocking. 

Luca Paladino of UW-Stevens Point has actually defeated Valdez twice already this season by scores of 5-3 & 6-5. He was upset via fall in 2:45 at the WIAC champions by Murphy.  He also owns both a 13-6 & a 7-4 decision over Klein. 

Murphy, who also has a losing record of 8-11, on top of his 2:45 fall over Paladino, also owns a 2-1 decision over Valdez. 

133 lbs 

At 25-1, Ty Bisek of Concordia (MN) has looked absolutely amazing this season. His only loss is via a Division II opponent, as he enters the Upper Midwest Regional undefeated in Division III.  With a 3-1 decision over Dominik Mallinder of UW-Whitewater under his belt, the question is? Can he overcome two time NCAA DIII All American Zach Thompson (5th in '21, 7th in '22) of UW-Platteville to win a title?  Thompson at 11-1on the season owns an 11-2 major over Mallinder, a 2-0 decision over Cade Willis of Augsburg, a 5-2 decision over Tyler Fleetwood of UW-Eau Claire & a 22-7 technical fall over Denis Murphy of UW-Oshkosh. 

The battle for bronze looks to me to be between Mallinder & Fleetwood. Mallinder at 27-12 won one of the head to heads pinning Fleetwood in 6:21.  He also owns a 6-1 as well as a 14-10 decision over Murphy. Fleetwood an NCAA DIII qualifier last year, owns a 5-0 decision over Mallinder, as well as a 4-3 decision over Willis & a 6-4 s.v. over Murphy. 

Murphy despite only being 15-15 on the year, owns a 3-2 decision over Willis.   

Hello to some great semi-final action, consolation semi-final action & what should prove to be a great finals & perhaps an even better consolation finals. 

141 lbs 

Very anxious to see how this weight class shapes up.  Cam Johnson of Aurora hasn't wrestled much this season, but what can I say? As to the Upper Midwest Regional competition he has tech'd, pinned or majored everyone he's faced, including a 13-4 major over Ethan Harsted of Wheaton. 

Sam Stuhl of Augsburg at 29-4 on the season, was one match shy of NCAA DIII All American honors last season & Cade Lundeen of Concordia (MN) owns a 1:31 fall over him. 

Harsted an NCAA DIII qualifier in his own right back in '20, is currently 20-5 on the season.  Then we have Dakarai Clay of UW-Whitewater & Tyler Shackle of UW-La Crosse who have both split with one another this season. Clay won an 11-10 decision whereas Shackle won 6-4. 

As far as I'm concerned all six of these guys are NCAA DIII qualification material. It's simply a matter of three will go & three will not. 

149 lbs

*NOTE* - Here's the thing, UW-La Crosse has two very good wrestlers at 149 lbs, but come Regional time, they're only gonna be able to enter one of the wrestlers. Parker Kratochvill at 21-11, very tough, but I think the Eagles are gonna go with Tyler Goebel.  If I'm wrong, so be it, but that's my guess. Goebel to my information did win a head to head 8-6 s.v. 

Talk about competitive!  This weight class features an All American, plus three other NCAA DIII qualifiers & another very tough wrestler looking for his first qualification.  No matter how  you swing it, at the end of the tournament, two very good wrestlers are going to be staying home. 

Jake Burford of UW-Whitewater is 27-6 on the year. He's managed to squeak past UW-Eau Claire's Zach Sato twice by scores of 3-2 & 11-10.  He's also defeated Ryan Fleck of Chicago, who was 6th in the D3 nation last season 10-6 & 9-3.  Two wins over Goebel 6-4 & 6-2. 

Charlie Stuhl of Augsburg, an NCAA DIII qualifier in '21, is 26-4 on the season with a 2-1 tiebreaker over Sato. 

Sato a qualifier last season, is currently at 32-7. 

That leaves us with Goebel who despite being the odd man out yet to earn an NCAA DIII qualification, does own both a 9-2 & 6-3 decision over Sato as well as a 9-8 decision over Stuhl. 

157 lbs 

Honestly, I don't have a whole heck of a lot of a stance when it comes to who's taking 3rd at 157 lbs. What I can tell you though, is that our final is 99.999% likely to be Tyler Shilson of Augsburg Vs Nolan Hertel of UW-La Crosse.  Shilson has finished 3rd at the past two NCAA DIII championships, as Hertel was 5th last year.  At 27-3, Shilson owns a 4-2 victory over Hertel.  At 28-2, Hertel owns a 13-0 major decision over Shilson.  Look forward to this match. 

165 lbs 

*Note* - Another case of two very tough wrestlers, same school, same weight. Take nothing away from Kaleb O'Reilly. Very tough wrestler, who by the way, owns a 2-1 win over Tristan Massie of UW-Eau Claire, BUT I'm almost positive that the Eagles are going with Noah Leisgang here. Head to head in competitions, he's defeated O'Reilly 3-2 & 3-1 s.v.  

Darian Estevez of Chicago was 8th in the NCAA DIII championships last season, but I tell you what, he better worry about simply making it out of the Upper Midwest Regional before he even begins to set his sights on a second All American honor. 14-3 on the season, all three of his losses have been to Regional competition.  While he does own a 3-2 tiebreaker over Brandon Peckham of UW-Stevens Point, he has also lost to Peckham 3-2 tiebreaker. He also has a 2-1 tiebreaker loss to Leisgang & a 5-2 loss to Ryan Vedner of UW-Whitewater. 

Leisgang at 19-2, along with his victory over Estevez, also owns a 3-1 victory over Vedner, a 4-3 victory over Massie, a 4-1 win over Peckham & a 2-0 win over Cooper Willis of Augsburg. 

Vedner, 22-10, also owns a 6-4 win over Massie.

Peckham at 27-7, both a 3-1 as well as a 3-2 victory over Vedner. 

Willis with a very impressive 9-1 major over Leisgang & Massie with a 7-1 win over Peckham. 

Quarters, Semis, con-semis, finals, con finals....this one is gonna be C for competitive & T for tough. 

174 lbs 

As far as I'm concerned gold & silver are already spoken for.  Very likely that our final here is gonna be Seth Brossard of UW-La Crosse who was 7th in D3's last season & Jared Stricker of UW-Eau Claire who was R12.  Brossard at 21-2, owns a 2:21 fall over Stricker as well as a 2:38 fall over Nathan Wynsma of UW-Platteville. He's defeated Seth Goetzinger of Augsburg by scores of 12-7 & 9-5. 

Stricker at 34-2, owns both a 9-3 victory as well a 5-0 victory over Wynsma & a 12-6 victory over Goetzinger. 

Along with Aurora's Luke Silva, 31-6 on the season, Goetzinger & Wynsma will batter it out for bronze. 

184 lbs 

Be it right or wrong, these are the gentlemen I believe are making it out of the Upper Midwest Regional this weekened.  Jaritt Shinhoster of UW-Whitewater was an NCAA DIII champion last year.  As he guns for title #2, I don't think he'll have any problem winning a Regional title here. He's manhandled Niall Schoenfelder of UW-Eau Claire twice this season, 15-4 & 22-4 technical fall.  I think our likely runner-up is Bentley Schwanbeck-Ostermann of Augsburg. With a name too long to fit on the picture, the two time NCAA DIII 6th placer owns a 6-2 victory over Schoenfelder. 

197 lbs 

*NOTE* - Yet again, UW-La Crosse with two outstanding wrestlers at the same weight. Ben Kawcyznski & Marcus Orlandoni.  While Orlandoni owns a 3-2 victory over Beau Yineman, I still think at 22-4, being NCAA DIII R12 last season, the Eagles go with Kawcyznski. Here though, I'm not as sure. They very well could go with Orlandoni instead. 

Yineman, 3rd in the NCAA DIII's last year, is currently at 24-2. Despite his loss to Orlandi (who he also defeated 4-1) he's otherwise undefeated against the Upper Midwest Regional competition.  This includes both a 10-3 as well as a 3-1 sudden victory over Tyler Hannah of UW-Platteville. It also includes both a 14-2 major as well as a 3:21 fall over Parker Venz of Augsburg. 

Venz while struggling something fierce with Yineman, does own a 6-1 victory over Hannah as well as a 2:19 fall over Kawcyznski. 

Hannah who was also NCAA D3 R12 last season, owns both a 2-0 as well as a 4:44 fall over Kawcyznski. 

I think seeding is extraordinarily important as to who makes the finals here & furthermore who fights back for 3rd. 


Again six very good wrestlers & only three of them are going to nationals as the other three will stay home.  Our forerunner for an Upper Midwest Regional title? Tyler Kim of Augsburg.  An NCAA DIII runner-up in 2021, he was 4th in the championships last year. He owns both a 5-2 as well as a 2-0 victory over Michael Douglas of UW-La Crosse & he's beaten Brett Schoenherr of UW-Platteville twice by scores of 5-1 & a 4:02 fall. 

Cole Fibranz of Chicago, an NCAA DIII qualifier in '20, has defeated Shelby Jones of UW-Whitewater 3/4's of the time. It's a 2:46 fall, an 11-4 decision & a 3-2 decision against a 2-1 decision. 

Schoenherr, owns a 5-3 decision over Fibranz, a 3-2 decision over Douglas & a 3-2 tiebreaker over Jones. 

Douglas, a 4-3 tiebraker over Schoenherr, a 5-3 decision over Fibranz and a 2-1 tiebreaker over Jones. 

Melton, 25-5 on the season, a 3-2 decision over Douglas & 3-1 decisions over both Jones & Schoenherr. 

You see the close matches. You see the back & forth. You see the parity.  It really helps to put into perspective just how insanely difficult it is to punch your ticket to the NCAA DIII championships, doesn't it? 

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