ANNIKA WALL, TRUMPET MANAGING EDITOR
After the No. 1 Wartburg Wrestling team lost the American Rivers Conference (A-R-C) crown in a down-to-the-wire 19-17 loss to No. 3 Loras, the Knights are preparing for the NCAA Lower Midwest Regional meet in Dubuque. Wartburg had won 27-straight conference championships and 220 consecutive dual victories prior to the loss.
“We’re just looking to have each and every guy wrestle at their best here at the end of the year,” Eric Keller, Wartburg head wrestling coach, said. “Hopefully we can get some Wartburg people down there [to Nationals] because there’s some real highlevel wrestling and we can use the support down there.”
The regional meet will feature six ranked programs, highlighted by the duo of Loras and Wartburg, and 22 ranked individuals. Wartburg’s Kris Rumph ’23 and Loras’ Guy Patron Jr. ’20 are both top-ranked in the nation. Rumph tops the 133-pound class and Patron Jr. the 197 class. Wartburg has a region-high eight individuals ranked by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
These are No. 7 Brady Kyner ’21 at 125 pounds, No. 1 Rumph, No. 4 Brady Fritz ’22 at 141, No. 10 Martine Sandoval ’20 at 157, No. 6 Max Forsyth ’20 at 165, No. 2 Kyle Briggs ’21 at 184, No. 3 Kobe Woods ’21 at 197 and No. 8 Jordon Brandon ’21 at heavyweight.
“Every single weight class at that qualifier is going to have good guys,” Keller said. “The good part for us is that we’ve wrestled a really, really good schedule this year. We’ve wrestled really good guys all year and our guys are prepared.”
The 197-pound weight class will feature four top-10 ranked wrestlers and the top-three wrestlers in the nation in Patron Jr., No. 2 Taylor Mehman ’20 of Coe College and Woods. No. 10 Ben Bergen ’20 of North Central College will also be at the qualifier. The 141, 165 and 184-pound weight classes have three ranked wrestlers each.
Last year, Wartburg won regionals for the seventh year in a row and qualified seven individuals for the National meet. Wartburg has won the team title since the competition’s inception.
Returning national qualifiers from 2019 include Brady Kyner ’21 at 125 pounds, Brock Rathbun ’21 at 133 pounds, Brady Fritz ’22 at 141 pounds, Rumph at 149 pounds and Kyle Briggs ’21 at 174 pounds. Briggs, Rathbun and Rumph have all changed weight classes in the current season.
This year’s National Championships will be March 13-14 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The top three wrestlers in each weight class at their respective regional meet will qualify for Nationals.