Three Warriors secure fourth-place finishes in Central Invitational

By Waldorf Sports Information

PELLA – Jonathan Halk, Joel Deere and Dario Gamino secured fourth-place finishes to lead the Waldorf University men's wrestling team in Saturday's Central College Under Armour Invitational.

Halk (141 pounds) posted a 5-2 record in the tournament, Deere (197) closed out the day with a 4-2 record and Gamino (149) finished with a 3-2 record.

Starting the tournament, Halk (9-5) came up short as he lost a 3-1 decision to Davenport University's Kahle Scheenks. Halk would rebound with five consecutive wins, including two falls.

"He lost early and had to come all the way back through the backside [of the bracket], which is a tough thing to do," Waldorf coach Brad Stockton said. "It's mentally draining and physically draining, but he wrestled really well all day."

Halk received a first-round consolation bye and the Las Vegas native notched a 15-4 major decision over Graceland University's Shea Swafford. He then pinned Central's Jahleel Vester in 1 minute, 9 seconds. Halk earned his second straight fall, pinning Briar Cliff University's Bailey Bright in 1:16. In a hard-fought battle, Halk won in sudden victory with a 7-6 decision against Truman State University's Rafael Lopez. The University of the Ozarks' Ny'Trell Dean won by fall over Halk in 1:16 during the third-place match.

"Even in the matches he lost, he was still wrestling well," Stockton said. "For a freshman to go through the backside of a tournament and do what he did is an accomplishment in itself."

Deere (4-6) controlled Ozarks' Marshall Billiter, winning a 16-1 technical fall in the opening round. Central's Matt Seabold, who's ranked No. 10 in the latest NCAA Division III poll, scored a 53-second fall over Deere in a quarterfinal bout.

Deere bounced back in his second-round consolation match, claiming an 8-0 major decision against Central's Chrisian Messick. Continuing strong, Deere pinned North Iowa Area Community College's Sedrak Sheppard in 1:40.

"He finally got some offense going and he looked good doing it," Stockton said. "He came up big over [Sheppard] with a really nice move to end the match. I think he had a little boost of confidence as well."

Deere, a senior from Bettendorf, won by medical forfeit against NIACC's Luke Erickson to advance to the third-place bout. Graceland's Ryan Paige earned third, winning by fall over Deere in 2:54.

Gamino (4-7) locked up an 8-2 decision over Central's Matt Pool and topped Graceland's Brandon Seward in a 7-4 decision. Davenport's Cole Menck escaped with the win, pinning Gamino in 6:47. Gamino, a senior from San Jose, Calif., fought past Pool in a 3-2 decision.

"Dario wrestled smart, stayed in good position, controlled his ties and created his offense, which is a big step for him," Stockton said. "For the most part, he did a great job of staying in position."

Central's Jordan Challen won by fall over Gamino in 2:45 during the third-place match.

Waldorf junior Jacob Pinedo (285) put together a 3-2 record on the day. He lost an 11-0 major decision in his opening match to NIACC's Mario Pena, who's ranked No. 5 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll.

Following a first-round consolation bye, Pinedo (5-4) pinned Ozarks' Zackery Wintz in 4:06. Pinedo picked up a 6-0 decision over William Penn University's Andruw Goin, who competed unattached. In a fourth-round consolation bout, Pinedo won by fall against Central's Chris Murino. Truman State's Ashton Mutuwa held off Pinedo in an 11-8 decision.

Freshman Dereck Samudio (165) competed unattached for the Warriors and finished with a 2-2 record. Samudio (3-4) pinned down a win over Central's Eddie Ginnan in 2:03 and followed with a fall against Graceland's Dakota Britt in 1:58. Central's Ryan Vandall, ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division III poll, pulled out a 4-2 decision over Samudio. Central's Jeremy Scheuermann took an 8-3 decision from Samudio in a fourth-round consolation match.

Waldorf junior Austin Roys (165) won one of three matches in the tournament. Roys (4-7) dominated Truman State's Malik Beverly in a 16-0 technical fall. Minnesota State University's Brad Maas pinned Roys in 2:20. Ginnan came away with a 6-2 decision over Roys in a second-round consolation bout.

Freshmen Andrew Cox (133) and Dallas Knoop (285) also competed for the Warriors.

Cox (4-5) faced a tough opponent to start the day as he lost by fall in 5:29 to Central's Cameron Timok, who's ranked No. 9 in the NCAA Division III poll. Minnesota State's Trenton McManus, who competed unattached, topped Cox in a 5-0 decision.

Knoop (0-8) came off a first-round bye and fell short, losing a 9-6 decision to Central's Jaime Miranda. Following a second-round consolation bye, Knoop was edged by Mutuwa in a 6-4 decision.

For Waldorf's eight grapplers who competed in the tournament, there were plenty of challenges that they embraced.

"They wrestled well throughout the day," Stockton said. "It's getting to that part of the season where that's a good thing. Everyone's starting to turn a corner in a sense."

The Warriors finished 10th in the team standings with 28 points.

NCAA Division III's No. 10 Central won the tournament championship with 139 points. Briar Cliff, which is receiving votes in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll, claimed second with 71.5 points while No. 18 Morningside (48) took third. NCAA Division III's Simpson College (47.5) placed fourth while NJCAA's No. 19 NIACC (46), Davenport (42.5), NCAA Division III's Ozarks (32), NCAA Division II's Truman State (30.5), NCAA Division II's No. 23 Minnesota State (28.5), Waldorf (28), William Penn (25.5), Graceland (16), NCAA Division III's St. Olaf College (10.5) and Hannibal-LaGrange University (3) completed the team standings. Graceland is also receiving votes in the NAIA poll.

The Warriors (0-2) return to action on Thursday as they take on St. Olaf (0-5) in a 7 p.m. dual meet at Northfield, Minn.

Waldorf's freshmen compete in the Worthington Open next Saturday at Worthington, Minn.

The Warriors then wrap up January in the Missouri Valley Invitational, which is a two-day tournament that begins on Jan. 21 at Marshall, Mo. Stockton described the tournament as being similar to a "small national tournament" due to the level of competition.

The Central College Under Armour Invitational marked Waldorf's first competition since Dec. 3 and Stockton is looking for the Warriors to continue elevating their performances in the final two months of the regular season.

"It's been a month since they've competed, so I think they were excited to compete again," Stockton said. "They were eager to get out and compete and St. Olaf on Thursday is pretty tough competition as well. They have to keep going from here until the end of the year."