Wrestlers clinch first ever super regional title

6 Ranger wrestlers move on to nationals

DEREK FYE | fye00001@rangers.uwp.edu

The Rangers wrestling team continues to prove they are not to be taken lightly as they won the Division II Midwest Super Regional tournament on February 26th and 27th. The Rangers had two grapplers take 5th place, two take 3rd place, and an impressive four win their weight classes. Coach Gregg Lewis was also named regional coach of the year.

Josh Anthony wrestled in the 197-pound weight class in this his senior season and had a solid record of 25-10 on the year. He was unable to win a match in the tournament going 0-2 on the day. Sophomore 285-pound wrestler Matt Halverson had an overall record of 27-12 for the season. He went 2-2 in the tournament and scored 3.5 team points for the Rangers, but was unable to place.

Frank Yattoni, a junior, placed 5th in the 149-pound weight class scoring 10.5 team points for the Rangers. Brett Scoles, sophomore, scored eight team points and also took 5th place in the 157-pound weight class.

Ronzel Darling and Joseph Her both took 3rd place and scored 13.5 points apiece for the team. Darling is a junior who wrestles at the 125 weight class. He achieved an impressive 26-3 record on the season. He won 3rd place by defeating Trung Duong of Newberry College by decision, 7-6. Her is in his senior season and had a 32-8 record overall in the 133-pound weight class. Her defeated Derrick Nelson of Coker College by decision, 6-4 to win 3rd place. Both Darling and Her will move on to the national tournament.

The Rangers showcased their true dominance by having four wrestlers win their respective weight classes. Pernevlon Sheppard was one of the most noteworthy champions winning the 141-pound weight class in this his redshirt-freshman season, winning the freshman of the year award. Sheppard posted an overall record of 28-9 for the season. He was dominant in the first two rounds winning by tech fall and major decision. But Sheppard’s biggest accomplishment of the day came in beating Bryce Killian of King University who was ranked third nationally, by a score of 11-10. Sheppard then defeated Robert Mason from Ashland University with a 3-2 decision to win the tournament scoring 17.5 team points.

Senior Nick Fishback is also putting together a season to remember boasting a 31-4 record and being ranked 3rd in the Nation at the 165-pound weight class. Fishback also posted a tech fall and a major decision in the first two rounds, then won by a 5-4 decision in the semifinals. He then beat Matthew Vandermeer of Lake Erie College with a 1-0 decision to claim the title and score 17.5 team points.

Another senior having a fantastic year is Montrail Johnson who won the 184-pound weight class and has posted a 30-4 record over the course of the season. Johnson was dominant during the tournament receiving a bye in the first round before earning a major decision and then a fall to set up his championship match against Huston Evans of Newberry College. He posted a 5-1 decision over Evans to win the title and scored 18 team points for the Rangers.

However, the most impressive performance of the season, this tournament notwithstanding, has come from sophomore standout Nick Becker. Becker has dominated all season posting a record of 38-0. He showed why he is ranked number one in the Nation by winning all four of his matches of the day by major decision. This includes the championship match in which he defeated Blaze Shade of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke by major decision 9-1, scoring 19 team points for the Rangers.

The two 3rd place finishers along with the four champions will compete in the NCAA Division II Championships on March 11th and March 12th in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This Final tournament will be the culmination of all of the Rangers’ efforts. Not only do these six wrestlers have an opportunity to win individual titles but an opportunity to win a team championship which would be the first in Parkside history.In an interview with Coach Lewis,  which  was printed in the February 25th edition, he said of the opportunity of  winning the NCAA DII Championship  “It would validate everything we’ve talked about as a team. The NCAA tournament will present a tough challenge to these talented athletes, but this season has been proof that the Rangers like a good challenge.

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