(Argo Athletics Media Release)
RENO, Nev. – A field filled with NCAA Division I wrestlers proved to be as big of a challenge as expected for (6) University of Providence but the Argos fared better than any other NAIA school at the Reno Tournament of Champions. UP finished 14th out of 33 schools with a total of 34 points.
No Argo wrestler placed in the tournament, but when one did win a match it was a pin as often as not, and those pins were the main reason for the team’s 34 points.
“When you look at our scores and where the other NAIA teams were, I was really happy,” Head Coach Caleb Schaeffer said. “That tournament is loaded with top-notch division I talent, and every one of our guys got a win, so we got a lot of good experience.”
Leading the way in terms of wins by fall was the 2016-17 NAIA Gorriaran Award Winner, redshirt-sophomore (6) Shonn Roberts. At 149, Roberts was one of four Argos to win 3 matches and he did so with 2 pins and a major decision.
Roberts’ day started with an 11-2 major decision win over a club wrestlers from California and then ran into a (#17 NCAA DI) Beau Donahue of North Carolina State. While Roberts lost the match, he put up a good fight against a top-level opponent, avoided both a fall and a technical fall in a 10-2 major decision loss.
In the consolation bracket, the sophomore pinned his only NAIA opponent of the day, winning by Fall (4:18). Next was another NCAA DI opponent, but the result was much different with Roberts winning by Fall (1:36) over Oregon State’s Conner Noonan. Another NCAA DI wrestler, Cal Poly’s Josh Cortez, was an even match for the Argo, but a takedown in the final seconds eventually knocked Roberts out of the tournament in a 7-6 decision.
“He had an amazing day. He got some amazing pins and almost beat that Cal Poly kid. He’s going along really well,” Schaeffer said.
The reigning NAIA Wrestler of the Week, redshirt-sophomore (T7) Randy Keesler was another 3 match winner for the Argos at 184. After losing his opening bout in a 7-3 decision against a foe from Cal Poly Keesler redeemed himself with a win by Fall (3:49) over a JUCO wrestler. He then beat NCAA DII wrestlers Adam Visconti in an 8-5 decision and then won a 16-4 major decision over NCAA DI Angel Solis of Fresno State.
After Roberts, the next most impressive performance statistically from someone on the UP roster came from an unattached wrestler, redshirt-junior Michael LeFuel. The transfer continues to prove the Argos are deep at 125, winning 3 matches with 2 pins.
LeFuel’s first match was a win by Fall (4:31) over a JUCO opponent. Against (7) Caballa Mhar of Eastern Oregon University, the junior suffered his first loss of the day, a 16-3 major decision. After a bye in the consolation bracket, LaFuel got another pin against another junior college wrestler. His fourth opponent was NCAA DII Isaiah Delacerda of Adams State. That match was closer than the others, but LeFuel still came away with a 5-3 decision win.
A loss to a wrestler from Fresno State ended his tournament in the next round.
“Man, he’s someone that we are really happy with,” Schaeffer said of LaFuel. “It’s going to be really hard for me to decide to take him out or not because he’s been wrestling so well. He beat a couple kids today that at the beginning of the year he wouldn’t have beat.”
The fourth and final Argo to win 3 matches was redshirt-sophomore (15) John Hensley. While Hensley went 3-2 on the day, two of his wins came without a final score. His day started with a 5-2 decision win, over NCAA DI Chandler Sambets of The Citadel but got even harder in the second round where he faces (#11 NCAA DI) Corey Griego of Oregon State. Griego wrestled like the ranked wrestler that he is and pinned Hensley to send him to the consolation bracket.
From there, Hensley got a win by disqualification against an NCAA DII wrestlers and then won by medical forfeit in the next round. Another NCAA DI foe knocked him out of the tournament for good with a pin.
Adding to UP’s pin total was redshirt-sophomore Casey Dobson at 157. Dobson only won two matches, but both were by Fall against opponents from NCAA DII Pacific University. His two losses were also nothing to be ashamed of.
With a history of wrestling his best against the best competition, Dobson managed to hold (#17 NCAA DI) Archie Colgan of Wyoming to a 13-3 major decision win, and had (#8 NCAA DII) Kyle Fantin of CSU-Pueblo in a 1 point match with just seconds left, but went for a match-winning takedown and instead go pinned.
Of the 13 teams to finish ahead of the Argos in the team standings, 12 were NCAA DI teams, with the other being NCAA DII. Included in the teams the Argos beat was (12) Southern Oregon University, (14) Montana State University-Northern, and (18) Eastern Oregon University. None of those teams finished higher than 25.
The tournament ends UP’s 2017. The Argos will start off the New Year with a home dual against Southern Oregon on January 2.