USA Wrestling Led by five semifina...

Led by five semifinalists, Notre Dame leads NCAA Div. II Nationals ahead of McKendree

By Roger Moore, Special to | March 10, 2017, 10:56 p.m. (ET)

Photo of Notre Dame's Ivan McClay courtesy of

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It didn’t wrap up the team title, but freshman Kameron Teacher’s overtime takedown to beat Maryville’s Donnell Walker could go a long way in earning Notre Dame College its second Division II championship in four years.

Tied at 7-7, Teacher, from Columbus, Ohio, finished a double-leg takedown and gave the Falcons five in the semifinals. No other team will have more than three when wrestling resumes Saturday morning at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.

The Falcons pushed Ivan McClay, Juwan Edmond, Isaiah White, Garrett Lineberger, and Teacher to the semifinals – only Lineberger, an NCAA champion in 2014, is a senior. White (22-2) won twice in impressive fashion at 165 pounds, whipping St. Cloud State State’s Gabe Fogarty, a three-time All-American, in the quarterfinals. Lineberger (20-2) won two tough bouts at 184, while McClay, a junior, had a pin and major decision to move to 25-3. Edmond (10-1), a sophomore from Chicago, had two decisions.

But the maybe the biggest win came from senior 141-pounder Cobey Fehr, who, coming off a tough loss to Indianapolis’ Nick Crume a few hours earlier in the quarterfinals, pinned Seton Hill’s Joey Alessandro in the third period of a tough match. Fehr trailed throughout, but mounted a furious rally before finishing off the 2016 NCAA finalist to stay in the tournament and earn All-America honors.

“Alessandro is tough,” said Fehr, a senior who is 11-5 heading into Saturday. “He broke his finger in the match, taped it up, and jumped back in there so I have to tip my hat to him. I had to be unselfish, staying in this for the team.

“Losing in the quarterfinals is one of the worst things that’s happened to me; it’s really tough to come back. Looking at the team race, knowing that if I stay in it, we can smash this thing.”

In over four decades of coaching, NDC boss Frank Romano cannot remember many comebacks like Fehr provided on Friday.

“I’ve been coaching wrestling since 1970 and I’ve never seen a comeback like that at a national tournament,” Romano said. “One of my guys, or any guy. He was down and out, scored like six points in a hurry and scored the fall right at the end. Just a tremendous effort from (Fehr).

“We’ve had injuries, different things all year, but we’ve put it together. There is still a lot of wresting left and it’s never over until it’s over like Yogi Berra used to say.”

By the time the first day was complete, NDC totaled 56 points and led second place McKendree (Ill.) by 35.5. Ashland (Ohio), at 30.5, was third, with Nebraska-Kearney (29.5), St. Cloud State (28.5), and California Baptist (28) rounding out the top six.

Lennie Zalesky’s Lancers pushed senior Jake Waste (28-3) and sophomore Nicholas Fiegener (33-2) into the semifinals. Waste, a two-time All-American from Apple Valley, Minn., is ready to wrestle on the big stage of the finals.

“I am just enjoying this last ride,” said Waste, who meets Shippensburg State’s Evan Ramos in the semifinals. “One of my best friends and former roommate, Matt Hickman, passed away last weekend so I’m trying to keep him in my head and grind through this thing. Every match, one at a time.

“(Fiegener) is a great kid, a great athlete, and he’s really progressing. It’s been great watching him work and have success this year. We’ve talked about just coming here and doing our jobs, wrestling for each other, and see what happens.”

McKendree 141-pounder Darren Wynn (35-7), NCAA champion in 2016, and 157-pounder Ryan Strope (40-7) pushed into the final four, along with Brock Wingbermeuhle (18-2) at 165 pounds, who took out Colorado State-Pueblo’s JaCobi Jones, who took out 2016 NCAA champion Tyler Reinhart of Pittsburgh-Johnstown a round earlier. Wingbermeuhle faces Mercyhurst senior Francis Mizia (37-2) Saturday morning.

Ashland, one of nine teams with two in the semifinals, saw three-time All-American Michael Labry (33-1) win twice at 133 and Jordan Murphy (15-4), who will face Fiegener.

St. Cloud State had a disastrous first day, pushing only defending champion Brett Velasquez (23-2) into the 125-pound semifinals. The Huskies, No. 1 all season, lost tough bouts all day, culminating in heavyweight Austin Goergen’s down-to-the-wire loss to Tiffin’s Garrett Gray in the quarterfinals. It was Goergen’s second loss in 30 matches in 2016-17. By the time the quarterfinal round was through, SCSU was in 11th and NDC led Ashland by 20 points.

Nine teams pushed two wrestlers to the semifinals during an action-packed day that included a handful of major surprises led by Limestone’s DeAndre’ Johnson’s stunning 12-10 sudden victory win over Pittsburgh-Johnstown’s Cody Law, who entered the 157-pound quarterfinals with a 27-0 record. It was UPJ’s third tough loss of the opening day as Reinhart fell to Jones and rookie Chris Eddins bowed out in the first round at 141 with a loss to Colorado Mesa’s Daniel Salazar.

Findlay’s Nic Goebel had a tough opener, edging Seton Hill’s Ty Lydic, 5-2. The senior 149-pounder lost to eventual champion Destin McCauley of Nebraska-Kearney in last season’s semifinals. He bested SCSU rookie James Pleski in Friday night’s quarterfinals and takes a 21-0 mark against NDC’s Edmond.

Wisconsin-Parkside’s Nick Becker (23-0) made quick work of Gannon’s Jake Stratton in the first round, then beat a tough Nick Foster of McKendree a round later. Becker was 41-0 and won the 174-pound title last March.

At Birmingham, Ala.

Semifinal pairings

125 pounds
Ivan McClay of Notre Dame (OH) vs. Austin Petril of Kutztown
Brett Velasquez of St. Cloud St. vs. Willie Bohince of Mercyhurst

133 pounds
Dustin Warner of Wheeling Jesuit vs. Blake Bosch of MSU Moorhead
Carmine Ciotti of Gannon vs. Michael Labry of Ashland

141 pounds
Daniel Salazar of Colorado Mesa vs. Darren Wynn of McKendree
Nick Crume of UIndy vs. Nate Rodriguez of Maryville (MO)

149 pounds
Juwan Edmond of Notre Dame (OH) vs. Nic Goebel of Findlay
Michael Screptock of Tiffin vs. Keith Surber of Neb.-Kearney

157 pounds
DeAndre` Johnson of Limestone vs. Ryan Strope of McKendree
Destin McCauley of Neb.-Kearney vs. Joey White of Findlay

165 pounds
Isaiah White of Notre Dame (OH) vs. Troy Warner of Kutztown
Francis Mizia of Mercyhurst vs. Brock Wingbermuehle of McKendree

174 pounds
Dalton George of Ohio Valley vs. Nick Becker of Wis.-Parkside
Adam Cooling of Minnesota St. vs. Blaze Shade of UNC Pembroke

184 pounds
Garrett Lineberger of Notre Dame (OH) vs. Aero Amo of Augustana (SD)
Nicholas Fiegener of California Baptist vs. Jordan Murphy of Ashland

197 pounds
Evan Ramos of Shippensburg vs. Jacob Waste of California Baptist
Luke Cramer of Ashland vs. Jon Inman of Fort Hays St.

285 pounds
Michael Lowman of Augustana (SD) vs. Garrett Gray of Tiffin
Kameron Teacher of Notre Dame (OH) vs. Logan Hopp of Upper Iowa

Team Scores
1. Notre Dame (OH) 56.0
2. McKendree 31.5
3. Ashland 30.5
4. Neb.-Kearney 29.5
5. St. Cloud St. 28.5
6. California Baptist 28.0
7. Findlay 27.0
8. Minnesota St. 23.5
9. Augustana (SD) 22.5
10. Kutztown 22.0
10. Maryville (MO) 22.0
12. Gannon 21.5
13. Mercyhurst 20.5
14. Tiffin 19.5
15. Fort Hays St. 19.0
16. UIndy 18.0
17. Central Okla. 14.0
18. Pitt.-Johnstown 13.5
19. Upper Iowa 13.0
20. Limestone 12.5