Lefever pinned Ithaca' Carlos Toribio in 4 minutes, 52 seconds Saturday night to capture his fourth consecutive NCAA Division III wrestling title.
"Take one at a time; it was always in the back of my head after I won the first one," Lefever said. "This one was fun. They all were fun."
Lefever joined former Augsburg star Marcus LeVesseur as the only four-time champions in Division III history. He never lost a match against a Division III opponent.
He exited the college scene just the way he wanted.
"Every match, the greatest thing you can do is pin somebody," Lefever said. "Capitalizing on it, having fun, yeah, it was pretty good, a pretty good way to go out."
The pin was Lefever's third of the tournament. His other match was a 16-6 major decision.
"Whenever I go out there on the mat and shake hands I want to dominate," he said. "I want to score a lot of points, take guys down, put them to their back and end it if I can."
After a dominant performance Friday, Wartburg looked a big more human Saturday. The Knights won just three of their seven semifinals and were 10-10 overall in the daytime session and went 1-2 in the finals. That still was plenty good enough to clinch the team's record 13th national championship.
"Yesterday was a lot of fun. ... They did what they needed to do yesterday," Wartburg Coach Eric Keller said. "Today was important, too; we just didn't wrestle as good as we could have wrestled today. That's the frustrating part, but we won the national championship."
Wartburg finished with 129.5 points, 50.5 points ahead of runner-up Augsburg. Lefever's pin allowed Wabash to edge Johnson & Wales 62.5-61.5. Messiah rounded out the top five with 56.
Junior Eric DeVos picked up Wartburg's lone win in the finals, turning around the results of last year's 174-pound final with a dominating 10-1 win against Messiah's Ben Swarr. Swarr beat DeVos 3-1 in last year's final on a late takedown.
"I replayed that in my head every night since last year," DeVos said. "I remember exactly how it happened, the feeling. Last year I was on the podium in second place and said, 'Remember this feeling.' I did, and this year it feels about a million times better."
DeVos took care of things early in the rematch with a six-point move in the final minute of the first period.
"I feel like the experience from last year definitely helped me," DeVos said. "It was painful last year, but it paid off this year. I wrestled my match this year instead of someone else's match."
DeVos said he felt no extra pressure as Wartburg's last hope for a champion.
"I think kind of the opposite," he said. "It motivated me. I wasn't going to let us have this great tournament -- nine All-Americans -- and crushing the field and then not let us have any individual champ. ... I think it motivated me to put a stamp on this tournament."
The DeVos-Swarr match was one of two finals rematches from 2016.
Zach Roseberry of Delaware Valley made it a repeat at heavyweight, defeating Augsburg's Donny Longendyke 3-2 in the final for the second year in a row. Roseberry broke a 1-1 tie when he drove in on Longendyke's legs for a takedown with 45 seconds left in the third period
"I could feel him wearing down a little bit, and I knew I wasn't going to wear down," Roseberry said. "I kept faking, faking, and then I saw it there. He made me work for it a lot more, but I was still able to get it and ride it out for a good 30 seconds. It put me in the driver's seat.
"I'm happy, extremely happy."
Saturday's finals were fan-friendly, too, for the most part.
Lefever's win was one of three matches that ended with a pin, and only one match was tied after regulation.
In that one, Logan Hermsen of Wisconsin-Stevens Point scored a takedown in overtime for the second year in a row to claim the title at 165. This time he beat Stephen Jarrell of Johnson & Wales 4-2.
"I was pretty confident in overtime," said Hermsen, who had to wait for a review before the winning points were awarded.
"I was trying to hit a low single on him, but he must know I like low singles because he tried to hop over and I came up to my base, tried to latch on behind," Hermsen said.
Wrestling a close match was nothing new for Hermsen.
"A lot of my matches are close matches, but that's just the way I wrestle," Hermsen said. "I like to keep it close and just out-scramble guys, outwork guys, push them in the third time.
Hermsen, Roseberry and Lefever were three of five repeat champions.
Messiah's Lucas Malmberg won his second straight title after a pair of runner-up finishes at 125, and Bobby Dierna of Cortland State defeated a Wartburg wrestler in the finals at 157 for the second year in a row.
"It's a little overwhelming," Malmberg said after beating Ferrum freshman Zach Beckner 5-1. Malmberg was in control after recording a takedown and two-point ner fall about 50 seconds apart in the first period.
"That's how I wrestle; that's my style, constantly attacking, constantly in control, and it worked out," Malmberg said.
Dierna defeated Logan Thomsen 8-7.
"Very satisfying to finish my career like that," Dierna said. "That's what I wanted all year. I was the first two-time champion from Cortland ever, and that was my goal all year to win one more title."
The one-point margin -- Thomsen got the final point for riding time -- was the closest the match got after Dierna scored the match's first three points with a penalty point and a takedown in the first period.
I try to do that every match, get as many points in the first period as I can, so I get that lead and stay confident and don't have to worry too much about giving up points."
A pair of second-period takedowns pushed the lead to 7-4, and Dierna survived a third-period takedown by Thomsen that made it 8-6.
Three of the championship matches ended early with pins. Along with Lefever, Nathan Pike of NYU (133 pounds) and Jordan Newman of Wisconsin-Whitewater (184) recorded falls.
Pike, a senior, Jay Albis of Johnson & Wales 2-1 after one period, but turned the match around in the second and got the fall in 4:48.
In the second period I noticed he was ready for a lot of my moves I tried in the first period," Pike said. "So I started to think what I could do that he wouldn't be ready for.
"There's a certain way I grip hands and wrists, and there's this move I have like a super-duck. I haven't used this move the whole tournament, so I figured I hoped he wouldn't know it was coming, and it came through. Once I was on top, I started doing what I do best and get a leg in. The only difference this time is after I got the leg in this time I was able to finish it with a pin."
Newman was beating Luther's Justin Kreiter 3-1 in the second period when he counted a move and put Kreiter on his back for the pin in 4:03.
"I got him in a front head and got him with a knee tap," Newman said. "I popped him right over to his back."
"It's a great feeling," Weinmann said of finishing off the season with a pin and a title. "I've been thinking of this day every day for a year straight, every night when I go to bed."
Daniel Del Gallo became the first champion for Southern Maine when he beat Aaron Engle of Cornell 4-1 at 149. A third-period reversal put him on top 3-0.
"I thought I wrestled well," Del Gallo said. "I would have liked to get the takedown. That third period I knew I would have to ride him for the win, and that's what I did."
Senior Dustin Weinmann brought the home crowd at the La Crosse Center to its feet when he won the title at 141 with 4-0 win against Wartburg's Cross Connone
"It means the world to me," Weinmann said. "I've been dreaming about this since my freshman year. To be able to do it means the world.
"Since my freshman year I set the goal of finishing on top at home, and I did that, so it's just crazy."
NCAA DIV. III NATIONALS
At LaCrosse, Wis., March 10-11
1st - Lucas Malmberg (Messiah) dec. Zachary Beckner (Ferrum), 5-1
3rd - Jonathan Haas (Brockport) dec. CJ Pestano (Central), 3-2
5th - Zac Denny (Wisconsin-Whitewater) dec. Arnulfo Olea (Wartburg), 7-5
7th - Bobby Jordan (Johnson & Wales) dec. Victor Gliva (Augsburg), 4-3
1st - Nathan Pike (NYU) pin Jay Albis (Johnson & Wales), 4:48
3rd - Troy Stanich (Stevens Tech) dec. Chris Williams (Millikin), 10-8, sv1
5th - Cam Timok (Central) dec. Ryan Flynn (York), 3-2
7th - Owen Doster (Wabash) dec. Maverick Passaro (Cortland State), 12-8
1st - Dustin Weinmann (Wisconsin-La Crosse) dec. Cross Cannone (Wartburg), 4-0
3rd - David Flynn (Augsburg) dec. Devin Broukal (Wabash), 12-9
5th - Clint Lembeck (Loras) pin Joseph Ferinde (Johnson & Wales), 5:51
7th - Brendon Seyfried (Williams) dec. Gregory Warner (York), 2-1
1st - Dan Del Gallo (Southern Maine) dec. Aaron Engle (Cornell College), 4-1
3rd - Kenny Martin (Wartburg) dec. Seth Lansberry (Lycoming), 6-2
5th - Sam Schneider (Ithaca) pin Cole Erickson (Coe), 1:31
7th - Zach Wilhelm (Stevens Tech) dec. Shaun Wilson (Waynesburg), 5-3
1st - Robert Dierna (Cortland State) dec. Logan Thomsen (Wartburg), 8-7
3rd - Nick Bova (Wabash) dec. Derek Arnold (Ursinus), 7-3
5th - Jimmy Davis (Loras) maj. dec. Mark Choinski (Wisconsin-Oshkosh), 15-5
7th - Ty Herzog (Roger Williams) dec. Steve Bonsall (University of Chicago), 11-5
1st - Logan Hermsen (Wisconsin-Stevens Point) dec. Stephen Jarrell (Johnson & Wales), 4-2
3rd - Lucas Jeske (Augsburg) pin Larry Cannon (Messiah), 1:29
5th - Anthony Arroyo (Baldwin Wallace) pin Nolan Barger (Lycoming), 2:12
7th - Andrew Steiert (Wartburg) maj. dec. Davon Jackson (Olivet), 11-3
1st - Eric DeVos (Wartburg) maj. dec. Ben Swarr (Messiah), 10-1
3rd - Sonnieboy Blanco (Washington & Jefferson) dec. Colin Barber (Cortland State), 4-2
5th - Richard Carlson (Wisconsin-La Crosse) pin Benjamin Schweiger (Delaware Valley), 2:18
7th - Michael LaBell (Johnson & Wales) maj. dec. Dan Kilroy (The College of New Jersey), 11-2
1st - Jordan Newman (Wisconsin-Whitewater) pin Justin Kreiter (Luther), 4:03
3rd - Owen Webster (Augsburg) dec. Jordan Bushey (Oswego State), 4-1
5th - Bryan Levsen (Wartburg) med. fft. Blaise Benderoth (NYU)
7th - Christos Giatras (Augustana) med. fft. Christopher Chorzepa (Williams)
1st - Riley Lefever (Wabash) pin Carlos Toribio (Ithaca), 4:52
3rd - Guy Patron Jr. (Loras) dec. Triston Engle (Brockport), 9-2
5th - Kyle Fank (Wartburg) med. fft. AJ Kowal (Stevens Tech)
7th- Kyle Koser (Messiah) dec. Kacee Hutchinson (Greensboro), 7-4
1st - Zachery Roseberry (Delaware Valley) dec. Donny Longendyke (Augsburg), 3-2
3rd - Adarios Jones (Augustana) maj. dec. Lance Evans (Wartburg), 9-1
5th - James Bethel (Oneonta State) dec. Donny Ralston (Wisconsin-Stevens Point), 8-6
7th - Jacob Evans (Waynesburg) dec. Jake O`Brien (Ithaca), 8-6
1. Wartburg 129.5
2. Augsburg 79.0
3. Wabash 62.5
4. Johnson & Wales 61.5
5. Messiah 56.0
6. Loras 46.5
7. Cortland State 45.0
8. Brockport 35.0
9. Ithaca 34.5
10. Stevens Tech 32.5
11. Wisconsin-La Crosse 32.0
11. Wisconsin-Stevens Point 32.0
13. Delaware Valley 31.5
13. Wisconsin-Whitewater 31.5
15. NYU 30.5
16. Lycoming 24.5
17. Augustana (Ill.) 24.0
18. Central 23.0
19. Southern Maine 22.0
20. Cornell College 18.0
20. Millikin 18.0
22. Ferrum 17.0
22. Luther 17.0
24. Oswego State 16.5
25. Baldwin Wallace 15.5
25. Ursinus 15.5
25. York (Pa.) 15.5
28. Coe 14.0
28. Waynesburg 14.0
30. Oneonta State 13.0
31. Washington & Jefferson 12.5
32. Olivet 11.5
33. Williams 11.0
33. Wisconsin-Oshkosh 11.0
35. The College of New Jersey 8.5
36. Roger Williams 6.5
37. Concordia-Moorhead 5.5
37. Greensboro 5.5
39. Wisconsin-Platteville 5.0
40. Merchant Marine Academy 4.0
40. MSOE 4.0
40. University of Chicago 4.0
40. Wesleyan 4.0
44. Alma 3.0
44. Wheaton 3.0
46. Mount Union 2.5
47. Springfield 2.0
48. Centenary 1.0
48. Elmhurst 1.0
48. Gettysburg 1.0
48. Rhode Island College 1.0
48. RIT 1.0
48. Washington & Lee 1.0
54. Castleton 0.5
54. Heidelberg 0.5
54. Wilkes 0.5
54. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 0.5
Lefever becomes four-time NCAA champion
from Wabash Sports Information
La Crosse, Wisconsin --- Wabash College senior Riley Lefever captured his fourth national title with his victory in the finals of Saturday's 2017 NCAA DIII Wrestling Championship Tournament, becoming only the second wrestler in Division III history to win titles in all four seasons of competition.
"This hasn't even sunk in yet," Lefever said. "You'll have to ask me what it means and how it feels again in a little bit. This was fun. They were all fun. I'm guessing it will all sink in later tonight or sometime tomorrow. Once I get back to school it's going to be crazy."
Lefever pinned Carlos Toribio 4:52 into their championship bout to win the 197-pound weight class and cap a four-year career after winning national titles at 184 pounds in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
"I got in my shot, he was moving in and it felt pretty good," Lefever said of his title win over Toribio. "He stuffed me pretty good. I had to switch outside. Once I pulled my head up I felt it. I started to try switch his arm and pull his hands in. Once I lifted him I knew I was in pretty good position to capitalize on it and that he was going to end up on his back. I was definitely thinking pin then.
"Whenever I step out on the mat and shake hands I want to dominate. I want to score a lot of points, take guys down, put them on their back and end it if I can."
"It was phenomenal, what a wonderful way to go out, and to boost our team into third place is unbelievable," Wababsh head coach Brian Anderson said. "That's Riley's humble way there. He's always team first, and he goes out and does everything possible to help our team.
"He's a seasoned veteran. He's been on that stage three times before tonight and it shows. He keeps comfortable. His dominance doesn't surprise me because his mindset of constantly trying to score points just wears people down to the point where the points keep coming easier and easier as the match goes. The kid is a complete game changer, a program changer. He has been a huge part of taking Wabash College wrestling to the level we're at now, an expectation to come home with a team trophy."
Lefever finished 129-0 in matches versus DIII opponents. He scored two victories by pins in the first two rounds of the 2017 tourney on Friday before earning a berth in the finals with a 16-5 major decision versus Kacee Hutchinson from Greensboro College in Saturday's semifinal round.
Lefever joins Augsburg's Marcus LeVesseur as the only NCAA Division III wrestlers to capture four national titles. LeVesseur won tournament titles in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007.
"Winning four titles was in the back of my head after I won the first one," Lefever said. "I remember after I finished second at state my senior year, Coach (Danny) Irwin was there and told 'It's alright. We're going to get a national championship next year.' I was kind of like 'Sure.' I didn't really believe. I thought he was just trying to make me feel better because I just got my butt kicked in the state finals. But it came to fruition"
Lefever also received the 2017 NCAA DIII Most Dominant Wrestler by averaging 5.79 points per match over the course of the season. He also earned the National Wrestling Coaches Association Most Oustanding Wrestler of the Meet Award for his performance at the 2017 championship event.
Lefever dominated Division III wrestling over his four seasons of competition. In his 129 victories, 73 came by pin in addition to 18 technical fall wins. An excellent student as well as a talented wrestler, Lefever was named to the prestigious Academic All-America Team as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America in 2016. He was named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-America Team in 2017 for third time in his career.