The annual non-team scoring event included 16 schools and around 200 wrestlers. Besides the Lopers, RMAC-members Chadron State and Mesa State were in attendance as were four Division I schools; Nebraska, Oregon State, Utah Valley and Wyoming.
Esai Dominguez of UNO (149 lbs.) was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler with teammate Cody Tyler (125 lbs. ) racking up a tourney-best five falls in a total time of 17:17.
A total of 27 Lopers competed today and they racked up 53 wins, including 12 by fall. Those to reach the finals were juniors T.J. Hepburn (157 lbs.), Dalton Jensen (141 lbs.) and Joey Wilson (165 lbs.) and sophomores Christian Flavin (197 lbs.) and Josh Smith (125 lbs.).
Coming in third place was true freshman Alec Chanthapatheth (133 lbs.) with redshirt freshman Jared Hatley fourth at 157 lbs. and sophomore Drew Comito beating true freshman Tanner Sturgeon in the fifth place match at 165 lbs.
Hepburn (East Hampton, Conn.), ranked third nationally, went 5-0 to place first and pick up his second tournament title of the semester. Hatley (Torrington, Wyo.), in going 4-2, fell to Wyoming's Andy McCulley, 6-4 in sudden victory # 1, in the third place bout.
Both Jensen (Rock Valley, Ia.) and Flavin (Sharpsburg, Ga.) had to medically forfeit their first place matches. Coming back from injury, Jensen won his first four matches before defaulting prior to the 141 lbs. title bout. Flavin, also going 4-0, did compete in his final match, against UNO’s Matt Baker, but was hurt late and couldn't finish.
At 165 lbs., top-seed Robert Kokesh of Nebraska proved to be a thorn in the side of UNK as he beat Lopers in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Wilson (Half Moon Bay, Calif.), the second seed in this class, went 4-0 before falling to Kokesh. Comito (Spokane, Wash.) picked up his fifth victory of the tournament when he beat Sturgeon (Cozad), 12-5.
In the lower weights, Smith (Houston, Texas) recorded two falls and a major to breeze into the 125 lbs. finals. There, he was in a tough battle with top seed Tyler Cox of Wyoming before getting pinned with just seconds to go. Chanthapatheth (Grand Island) improved to 17-7 on the year as he bounced back from a semifinal loss at 133 lbs. to beat UNO’s Josh Keszler, 5-2, for third place.
Finally, senior heavyweight Ben Hohensee (Monett, Mo.) won his first two matches before defaulting out. Like Jensen, he should return to the mats very soon.
UNK is off until Jan. 2-3 when the varsity will head to Arizona for the Grand Canyon duals with the non-varsity going to Fremont for the Warrior-Viking Open.