Johnnies Return to the Mat Thursday at Division II MSU-Mankato

Saint John’s wrestling travels south to face MSU-Mankato, ranked No. 19 in NCAA Division II, for a 7 p.m. dual on Thursday, Nov. 30.

A LOOK AT THE JOHNNIES: Saint John’s placed five wrestlers at its season-opening tournament, the Auggie-Adidas Invitational, nearly two weeks ago (Nov. 18) in Minneapolis. Junior Luke Dodd (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview) went 3-1 to finish second at 184 pounds. He started his season with a technical fall (19-4) and advanced to the semifinal with a 9-5 win over Dalton Hahn of Division II Upper Iowa. Dodd posted a 3-1 overtime win over former Johnnie, Jackson Graham of Augsburg, in the semis, but dropped a 3-1 decision to Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Sean O’Neil in the championship bout.

Sophomore Noah Becker (Browerville, Minn.) opened his season with a 5-1 win following a first-round bye but fell to fifth-ranked Sam Bennyhoff of Augsburg via major decision. He ended his day with an 8-5 loss in the third-place match to claim fourth at 133 pounds.

Sophomore Anthony Hennen (Cologne, Minn./Norwood-Young America) collected a 2-2 record to finish sixth at 141 pounds, while classmate Andrew Smith (Amery, Wis.) battled back from an opening-round loss with three straight wins to win the consolation title at 133.

A pair of freshmen, Noah Lefebvre (Foley, Minn.) and Ben Ungar (Plymouth, Minn./Robbinsdale Armstrong), made strong debuts in the silver brackets. Lefebvre registered a 3-1 record to take fifth at 165 pounds, while Ungar went 2-2 for sixth place at heavyweight.

IN THE RANKINGS: Dodd is currently ranked eighth at 184 pounds and Becker is ninth at 133 pounds, according to the latest National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) rankings released Nov. 15. Both wrestlers are listed as “Contenders,” just outside the top 10, by

THE LINEUP: The Johnnies are expected to send these 10 wrestlers to Mankato Thursday:

125: Noah Becker (1-2)
133: Andrew Smith (3-1)
141: Anthony Hennen (2-2)
149: Brandon Ortman (1-2)
157: Jerod Novak (2-2)
165: Noah Lefebvre (3-1)
174: Dan Gainer (0-2)
184: Luke Dodd (3-1)
197: Nick Pegelow (0-0)
285: Dominic Skawiniak (1-2)

For live video of Thursday’s dual, click HERE.

A LOOK AT THE MAVERICKS: MSU-Mankato has two wrestlers ranked nationally and both are returning All-Americans. Senior Corey Abernathy is ranked fourth at 184 pounds, while sophomore Matthew Blome is fifth at 197 pounds. Abernathy went 3-1 to take third Nov. 11 at the Luther (Iowa) Open and Blome went 3-1 to claim second at the Augsburg Open. Sophomores Andrew McFall (7-2 record) and Louie Sanders (5-3 record) both finished second at 125 and 141 pounds, respectively, at Augsburg.

LAST YEAR’S DUAL: Then-No. 23 (DII) MSU-Mankato won the dual’s first eight matches in a 38-3 win over Saint John’s back on Jan. 11 in Collegeville’s Guild Hall (Old Gym). The Mavericks won three matches by two points or less and recorded six bonus-point victories. Robert Tait ’17 improved to 6-1 on the year for SJU with the Johnnies’ lone win at 197 pounds, 6-4.

SJU started the dual with a pair of close losses by freshmen. Hennen suffered a 4-3 defeat, with the deciding point recorded due to riding time in the third period, at 125 pounds and Becker scored a late reversal but could not get back points in a 7-5 defeat at 133.

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