Wrestling nears Super Region 3 Tournament

Michael Lowman

Wrestling battles top NSIC foes before regional tourney

Jacob Belgum


Heading into next weekend’s Super Region 3 Tournament, Augustana wrestling recently earned one thrilling victory and suffered through one close defeat.

The win, a 19-16 comeback over rival Upper Iowa, came Feb. 5 at the Elmen Center, where the Vikings fell to Mankato State 21-16 on Saturday. Sandwiched between those matches was a 32-9 blowout of Minnesota State-Moorhead.

Head coach Jason Reitmeier said the Upper Iowa dual, which was decided when the final two matches went Augustana’s way in sudden victory (overtime), “was a great win for us.”

“[Upper Iowa has] always been kind of a thorn in our side a little bit,” he said. “The guys were wrestling hard and wrestling well, really laying it all on the line. It was a turning point a little bit for us, as far as a whole team effort goes.”

The Mankato dual appeared to be going Augustana’s way when freshman Lukas Poloncic upset No. 3 Adam Cooling 5-4 in the 174-pound match, tying the team score, 12-12.

Last year’s 184-pound regional champion, junior Aero Amo, took the mat next for AU but was upset 11-5, creating a deficit that the Vikings could not recover from.

“I just, I got a little bit lazy,” Amo said of his match. “I was hitting shots and I wasn’t really finishing up on them, and then, he [Corey Abernathy] is a good wrestler, and he capitalized on it. That was my mistake. It’s a tough loss, but there’ll be more matches.

Amo said he had beaten Abernathy in their previous two meetings.

Senior heavyweight Michael Lowman admitted the Mankato loss “sucked,” but said that it will not “derail our season” and should refocus the team after “riding high” off the Upper Iowa win.

“We’ve just got to keep moving forward and keep getting ready for the regional tournament,” Lowman said.

The wrestling season builds to the regional tournament, and Reitmeier, a candid interview, felt optimistic about his team’s chances, while also acknowledging that the “region is tough.” He said the region gets deeper every year, and that no wrestler can take qualifying for nationals (placing in the top four at regionals) as a given.

Amo was the lone Viking to advance to nationals last season. Lowman made it his sophomore year before just missing out as a junior. He said he placed too much pressure on himself, and that a more relaxed mindset should pay dividends this time around.

“After last season, I was pretty disappointed to say the least,” he said, admitting that he was “burnt out” by season’s end. “So I feel that this year I’ve done things a little different; I’ve kind of gotten back to the way I used to do things. So I’m feeling pretty confident about my chances. I feel good physically, feeling good mentally.”

Reitmeier highlighted a number of his wrestlers as having a shot to qualify for nationals. He said senior 157-pounder Tyler Nation “has been wrestling really well” and that senior 133-pounder Brandon Charbonneau “is a dangerous guy for anyone” despite dropping a few recent matches.

“It’s kind of this up and down roller coaster right now, where I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are capable of doing it, it’s just a matter of who shows up [next] Friday and Saturday and who wrestles well,” Reitmeier said.

But before the tournament, one more NSIC dual remains. Augustana can win a share of the NSIC title if it can upset the nation’s No. 1 team—St. Cloud State—Thursday in the Elmen Center. The match will be decided when this issue goes to press.

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