Small College Sports

Coe wrestling is rested and ready for NWCA National Duals

Kohawks took different approach to December schedule this season

Coe head wrestling coach John Oostendorp. (The Gazette)
Coe head wrestling coach John Oostendorp. (The Gazette)

Coe wrestling coach John Oostendorp adopted a different approach to the schedule this season.

Instead of the annual pre-holiday trip right after first-semester finals to bridge the gap between each half of the season, the Kohawks elected to remain home. He did it for good reason, taking almost a month hiatus from competition to prepare for the National Wrestling Coaches Association Multi-Divisional National Duals.

“We got some good training with it,” Oostendorp said. “I guess we’ll see where we’re at in the next three days.

“I think you’re always evaluating your programs and what you think your needs are. We felt this was the best situation for us, at least this year with the way the calendar was set.”

Coe brings a 4-0 dual record and is seeded sixth for the NWCA Division III National Duals on Friday and Saturday at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. The Kohawks are one of four American Rivers Conference teams in the field and open with Ithaca (N.Y.).

“It’s going to be a great competition,” Oostendorp said. “There’s going to be some battles, even in that first round. You have teams that have been in the top 10 continually. It will be exciting to get in there and sort it out to see where everybody is at.”

Coe has ascended the D-III rankings to sixth with four ranked wrestlers. All-Americans Taylor Mehmen (197) and Cole Erickson (157) are rated second and sixth, respectively. Tristin Westphal-Edwards, a former Washington (Iowa) state champion, is eighth at 174, while sophomore heavyweight Kaleb Reeves (a Sigourney-Keota prep) is ninth.

The Kohawks have victories over two teams in the bracket, beating Wisconsin-La Crosse and Wisconsin-Whitewater last month. Their last competition was a 45-3 win over Buena Vista.

“I feel really good where we’re at,” Oostendorp said. “We have some proven guys and some young guys with talent that are coming on. It will be exciting to watch them compete in that environment. I like our team a lot right now.”

Augsburg (Minn.) and Wartburg are the only teams to win the event since 2002. The Knights are seeded second behind the two-time defending champ Auggies. Wartburg (6-0) didn’t make the finals last season and is looking for its 12th National Duals crown and first since 2017.

Luther is also in the field, taking on North Central (Ill.) in the first round. Loras is seeded fourth behind Wabash (Ind.), which could cross paths with Coe in the quarterfinals. The rested Kohawks will have to take care of business against Ithaca (4-2) first.

“They’ll be good (and) always are,” Oostendorp said. “When you look at this tournament, there will be teams that are seeded eight, nine, 10 and 11 that are very capable teams.

“It’s what you train for. You look forward to these kinds of competitions.”

Upper Iowa is seeded seventh in the NCAA Division II bracket. The Peacocks will wrestle Gannon (Pa.) . Upper Iowa enters the tournament unbeaten, winning its first seven duals this season. Top-seeded St. Cloud State (Minn.) has won the last three D-II National Duals and owns a 54-dual win streak, tying its own D-II record.

Grand View is favored to defend its NAIA National Duals title. The Vikings have won eight straight title as part of an 81-dual win streak. Grand View is seeded first and takes on Brewton-Parker (Ga.) .

Tanner Sloan returns to Iowa with South Dakota State

Former Alburnett two-time state champion and Midlands finalist Tanner Sloan returns to his home state Friday. South Dakota State’s freshman 197-pounder will wrestle at the West Gym in Cedar Falls when No. 16 Northern Iowa (1-2) hosts the Jackrabbits (4-3).

Sloan, who was a member of the U.S. U23 World team in 2019, is ranked 19th nationally by trackwrestling.com. He is 10-4 with three pins, three major decisions and a technical fall. Sloan is tied for second on the team with 21 dual points.

Jay Schwarm among NCAA pin leaders

The NCAA released its first edition of its wrestling award standings, listing the leaders in pins and technical falls in all three divisions.

UNI 125-pounder Jay Schwarm is the only wrestler from an Iowa program. Schwarm is seventh in Division I pins, recording eight in 17:22. He is one fall off of a tie for third.

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Schwarm pinned Utah Valley’s William Edelblute in the first period last Saturday, giving him 43 career falls. He ranks fifth all-time for the Panthers.

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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