NCAA Division II Day One Recap

By Jackie Paquette, University of Indianapolis

ST. LOUIS- In a day one full of upsets, top-ranked Nebraska-Kearney leads the team race at the 2021 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.

The Lopers have nine of 10 qualifiers still alive heading to day two, with two of those in the semifinals of their respective brackets. UNK has 58 total points, with reigning National Champion St. Cloud State currently in second with 51.5 points. Lindenwood (43.5), McKendree (42.5) and Central Oklahoma (42) round out the top five heading into day two.

Nine of the 10 weight classes featured some sort of upset in the quarterfinals on a day of shake ups at the event. Four unseeded wrestlers earned spots in the semifinals, starting with Christian Mejia of McKendree at 125.

The Bearcat pulled off a 3-1 SV-1 upset of top-ranked Isaiah De La Cerda of Adams State in the quarters, and will face UNC-Pembroke’s Nick Daggett in the semifinals. Daggett, the five-seed in the bracket, bested four-seed and returning national finalist Josh Portillo (UNK) by major decision in the quarters.

A five also overtook a four at 133, with Central Oklahoma’s Tanner Cole taking a major decision over Lindenwood’s Tanner Hitchcock to earn his semis berth. It was a seven over a two at 149, with St. Cloud’s Garrett Aldrich overtaking Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) foe Kyle Rathman of Minnesota State to take his place in the semis.

Lindenwood’s Ronnie Gentile made it to the semis as the six-seed at 157, taking down both three-seed Jacob Wasser (UNK) and four-seed Chase Luensman (Upper Iowa) en route to his semifinal tilt with fellow Great Lakes Valley Conference wrestler Dawson Combest of Indianapolis.

The eight seed topped the one seed at 165, as St. Cloud’s Devin FitzPatrick fell to McKendree redshirt freshman Cory Peterson in the quarters, while Indianapolis’ Andrew Sams, the six at 174, upset three-seed Brock Biddle of Pitt.-Johnstown to take a spot in the semifinal of that bracket.

Unseeded wrestlers in Bailey Kelly (184) and Jackson Ryan (197) are both in  the semifinals at their weights, with Kelly (Maryville) taking out three-seed Aiden Pasiuk and six-seed Billy Ptizner (SCSU) on the way to making the semis. Ryan took out two-seed Nick Mason (Tiffin) and seven-seed Joel Leise (Gannon) to earn his spot in the semis.

The heavyweight semis also feature an unseeded wrestler in Steven Hajas of Augustana, who defeated both the three-seed in Tristen Weirich of Ashland and the six-seed in Nebraska-Kearney’s Lee Herrington. His opponent, seven-seeded Weston Hunt of Colorado Mines, pinned the two-seed, Jared Rennick to earn his semis spot.

The semifinals are first up tomorrow when wrestling resumes from the America’s Center. First whistle of day two will be at 12:00 p.m. CST.

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