Coming into the 2009 Cadet National Duals Greco-Roman competition, much of the talk centered on the two returning finalists – Minnesota and Wisconsin – states with rich Greco-Roman wrestling traditions.
“I don’t know when that’s going to stop,” said Illinois coach Mike Powell.
On Friday, Powell guided Illinois to the 2009 Cadet National Duals Greco-Roman title in Rochester, Minnesota.
“We have now won two out of the last three Cadet titles,” said Powell. “We were a match away from winning the Cadet title last year. We have won the last two Junior titles, and we were second the year before. Illinois is the best Greco state in the country, I’m proud to say.”
In the finals, Illinois defeated a red-hot Minnesota team, 36-29. Minnesota had just come off an emotional victory over defending champion Wisconsin.
“We knew Wisconsin was stacked,” said Powell. “Dennis Hall and all those guys. We knew Minnesota was stacked. They always are. They have the great tradition. But we’re trying to create our own now.”
After the first six matches of the final, Minnesota led Illinois 11-10. At that point Powell and the Illinois staff made a crucial decision. They sent Johnny Delmedico to the mat at 125 pounds to face All-Tournament team member Ben Morgan. Morgan won that match 4-1, 6-0.
However, it set up the next four matches of the dual meet in which Illinois bumped their competitors up one weight class four consecutive times, winning all four of those matches. This included their two All-Tournament team members — Zane Richards and Luke Smith — coming up with big wins over a pair of scholastic state champions from Apple Valley High School
Dylan Cowan and Steve Burling also had three period victories during this four match string at 135 and 145 pounds respectively. After a 1-0, 1-0 victory at 152 pounds by Brian Strenk, a fifth consecutive Illinois victory, the Land of Lincoln squad had a 27-18 lead that would never be challenged.
“Zane Richards just looked unstoppable,” said Powell. “I don’t know that he got scored on in the tournament.”
Illinois entered the event with some question marks in its lineup. A few of the wrestlers expected to be on the team were injured at the Northern Plains Regional last week and at camp.
“We were a little worried about a couple weights,” said Powell. “So we called up some guys who showed up and those guys really stepped up.”
One of those wrestlers was 145-pounder Tim Corse, who scored a key victory in Illinois’ 37-33 victory over Iowa, which put them in the finals against Minnesota.
Gordy Morgan, a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman team, was assisting on the Minnesota coaching staff. Despite the loss to Illinois, he was proud of Minnesota’s effort.
“The kids wrestled really well,” said Morgan. “Good strategies on the mat. I was really impressed with how smart our kids were. Coming into a tournament like this, you really don’t know what you have. We knew we had a lot of good athletes, but what impressed me the most is the amount of thought they put into the matches. Illinois was just a little bit tougher.”
Gordy’s son, Ben Morgan, is one of the nation’s top wrestlers from the Class of 2012. Ben finished 6-0 and made the Cadet Duals All-Tournament Team at 125 pounds. Mitch Bengtson (105), Jake Waste (160), and Donny Longendyke (285) also represented Minnesota on the All-Tournament team.
Friday’s opening session, Session III of the event, concluded with perhaps the most anticipated dual meet of the tournament – Minnesota vs. Wisconsin. This was a rematch of last year’s championship. It lived up to the billing as the teams battled tooth and nail for every point.
Going into the 130-pound match, Minnesota led 16-12. But Wisconsin’s middleweight core of Alex Dieringer (130), Zak Benitz (135), Rylan Lubeck (140), and Brad Dolezal (145) came through with victories to put Wisconsin back on top 26-16.
Minnesota recovered to win five of the last six matches to sneak out with the victory on its home turf. A three-period victory by William Baker (152) ended the four match win string that Wisconsin had going.
After a 1-0, 7-0 decision by Wisconsin’s Devin Peterson at 189 pounds, which tied the match at 30-30, Michael Kroells (215) and Longendyke (285) won the last two matches of the dual meet to give Minnesota a 36-30 victory.
Minnesota won the Blue Pool with a 3-0 record. Despite the close loss to Minnesota, Wisconsin was upset by Washington, 41-35, and would finish third with a 1-2 record. Washington was second at 2-1, while New Jersey finished last with a 0-3 record.
In Friday’s Red Pool competition, Illinois was champion with a 3-0 record. The other three teams – Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan – went 1-2. Pennsylvania finished second in the pool based on tiebreaker, most points scored in the dual meets involving the three teams. Pennsylvania defeated Iowa, 36-32, Michigan defeated Pennsylvania, 38-37, and Iowa defeated Michigan, 36-29.
Championship Finals results
First place: Illinois defeated Minnesota 2, 36-29
Third place: Pennsylvania 1 defeated Washington, 45-27
Fifth place: Wisconsin defeated Iowa, 45-30
Seventh place: Michigan defeated New Jersey, 47-32
Ninth place: Minnesota 1 defeated Texas, 41-33
84 pounds: Dylan Akers of TEXAS went 6-0
91 pounds: Jacob Schmitt of MICHIGAN 1 went 9-0
98 pounds: Nick Roberts of PENNSYLVANIA 1 went 8-0
105 pounds: Mitch Bengtson of MINNESOTA 2 went 7-0, Devon Lotito of PENNSYLVANIA 2 went 6-0
112 pounds: Mark Grey of NEW JERSEY went 9-0
119 pounds: Alec Moordian of MICHIGAN 1 went 9-0
125 pounds: Zane Richards of ILLINOIS went 8-0, Ben Morgan of MINNESOTA 2 went 6-0
130 pounds: Alex Dieringer of WISCONSIN went 8-0
135 pounds: Zak Benitz of WISCONSIN went 8-0, Luke Smith of ILLINOIS went 8-0, Tim Riley of PENNSYLVANIA 2 went 6-0
140 pounds: Rylan Lubeck of WISCONSIN went 8-0
145 pounds: Justin Koethe of IOWA went 7-0, Brooks Climmons of GEORGIA went 6-0
152 pounds: Taylor Massa of MICHIGAN 1 went 9-0
160 pounds: Issah Meade of DELAWARE went 6-0, Jake Waste of MINNESOTA 2 went 6-0
171 pounds: Devin Peterson of WISCONSIN went 9-0
189 pounds: Michael Ettore of FLORIDA went 6-0
215 pounds: Brooks Black of PENNSYLVANIA 1 went 8-0, Maalique Micenheimer of CALIFORNIA went 6-0
285 pounds: Devan Pommerenke of MICHIGAN 1 went 9-0, Donny Longendyke of MINNESOTA 2 went 8-0