Wrestlers look to pin down national bids

by Phillip Nicolino

With just the IIAC Championships left for some, the wrestling team is looking to finish a successful year on a high note.

Simpson, No. 17 in the nation and host of the IIAC Championships Feb. 14, is going to try to get as many wrestlers as possible through to the national tournament in the last day of the season.

“I think that everybody has some high expectations,” said junior Brannon Hilton. “Some guys may have a tougher bracket than others, but overall, we plan on having a few guys go through.”

The one that some feel has the best chance of going on to nationals is freshman Clint Manny. Manny is currently ranked fourth in the nation at the 149-weight class and he is one of three Storm wrestlers that have at least 30 wins on the year (34).

Senior Justin Song and sophomore Bart George are the other two wrestlers with 30 or more wins. They too are also considered to have a shot at moving on to nationals.

“Bart George, Clint Manny, [sophomore] Jason Mitchell, Justin Song and [freshman] Quent Christensen have been our leaders up to this point,” said head coach and assistant athletic director Ron Peterson.

“They’ve all beaten some quality people and they will probably be seeded well with a chance to get into the national tournament.”

A total of 34 wrestlers will get a chance to advance to the national tournament in Pennsylvania March 1-2. The two wrestlers that finish first and second in each weight class and then 14 wildcards will move on. Wildcards would be anybody that wrestled well during the course of the season but failed to make it to the finals of the IIAC Championships.

As for the Storm’s last dual before the IIAC Championships, they squared off against No. 5 Upper Iowa Feb. 7. The Peacocks were able to win some close matches to defeat Simpson 31-7.

“We didn’t wrestle very good at all and we had about four or five matches that could have gone either way,” Christensen said. “We just didn’t show up to wrestle. It was a bad day.”

Christensen and freshman Jeff Kuhl were the only Storm wrestlers that were able to tally wins. Christensen beat the fourth ranked wrestler in the nation at the 133-weight class 10-9 and Kuhl won his match 13-5. Song had a tough match with the No. 1 ranked wrestler at the 165-weight class, but lost 6-4.

“We did not wrestle very well against Upper Iowa,” Peterson said. “We, for whatever reason, came out flat and got out hustled. Upper Iowa seemed to want it more than we did.”