Kearney, Neb. – The 12th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney wrestling team beat sixth-ranked Pittsburgh-Johnstown, 25-19, and fifth-ranked McKendree (Ill.), 23-11, at the NWCA National Duals Friday in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
With the wins, the Lopers (8-0) reach the semifinals. They’ll take on top-ranked St. Cloud State (8-0) Friday at 10 a.m. Central. Win or lose that dual and the Lopers will wrestle again at 1 p.m. Central for either first or third place. The other quarterfinal matches were held late Thursday afternoon.
Despite being two of the top programs in Division II, UNK and St. Cloud State haven’t met in a dual since the 2010-11 season. The Huskies won that matchup 26-9 at the Grand Canyon University Duals in Phoenix.
UNK used five bonus point wins to beat the UPJ Mountain Cats (5-2) with the win over the MU Panthers (6-1) being a much tighter affair. Six matches were decided by three points or less with each team winning each team winning three times. The Lopers won the dual thanks to two majors and a fall.
Against Pitt-Johnstown, top-ranked senior Keith Surber (Sparta, Ill.) had a 10 second fall at 149 pounds, eighth-ranked Bryce Shoemaker (Baldwin City, Kan.) had four takedowns in a 17-2 win at 133 pounds and 12th-ranked Zach Stodden (Broomfield, Colo.) racked up 10 points in the third period to win 17-4 at 174 pounds.
In the afternoon win over McKendree, redshirt freshman newcomer Matt Malcom (Glenwood, Ia.) upset fifth-ranked Ryan Strope, 3-2, thanks to a first period takedown. Two classes lower, sophomore Tevin Briscoe (Garden City, Kan.) almost upset top-ranked Darren Wynn as he got out to a 6-4 lead. However, Wynn tallied seven points in the next period to go to an 11-10 win. Wynn won the national title two years ago and was the national runner up as a junior.
Surber (9-0) and redshirt freshman newcomer Josh Portillo (12-1), at 125 pounds, had UNK’s major decisions. Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) recently transferred in from South Dakota State.
Kearney secured the dual thanks to victories by junior Trey Schlender (197 lbs.) and sophomore Jarrod Hinrichs (285 lbs.). Schlender had a second period takedown and riding time to win 5-2 with Hinrichs building up a 7-1 lead before recording a fall at 6:25. Finally, McKendree was docked a team point due to misconduct.