MILWAUKEE, WIS. — The margin was closer, but the Central College wrestling team bagged a team crown at the Milwaukee School of Engineering Invitational for the fourth consecutive year Saturday by piling up 131.5 points.
Millikin University (Ill.) was Central’s biggest threat with 123.5 points but the University of Wisconsin-Platteville was in the hunt with 120.5 points.
“In the nine or 10 years we’ve been going to this tournament, this was far and away the toughest it’s ever been,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “It was a team effort all the way. We were very balanced relative to who was scoring points and placing for us; we needed all of it.”
Unbeaten streaks for C.J. Pestano (125 pounds, senior, Torrance, Calif.) and Cam Timok (133 pounds, junior, Glen Allen, Va.)increased to 12 and 14, respectively as the duo won their third individual tournament titles of the season. They also both defeated opponents ranked No. 8 nationally in the title matches. No. 2 Pestano downed Carlos Fuentez of Wheaton College by a 5-1 decision while Timok pinned Scott Arneson of Wis.-Platteville at 1:42
Winning his first tournament of the season, 165-pounder Jeremy Vester (junior, Oak Harbor, Wash.) capped a 4-0 day with a first-period fall over Isaac Brosinski of Wis.-Platteville.
“At the end of the day, going 3-for-3 in the finals was the deciding factor in winning the team championships,” Van Kley said. “We’ve put an added emphasis on getting pins and bonus points.”
Depth continues to be the name of the game for the Dutch as Central placed a pair of wrestlers in the top-six at both 141 and 149 pounds.Jahleel Vester (senior, Oak Harbor, Wash.) and Tristan Clark (junior, Prairie City, PCM HS) tied for third at 141 pounds while Daniel Radcliffe (sophomore, Lockport, Ill., Lockport Township HS) was fourth and Jordan Challen (junior, Jefferson, Greene County HS) fifth at 149 pounds.
“The depth of our program sticks out on a day like today,” Van Kley said. “It’s the competition that we have in the practice room that’s making us a better program.”
Splitting the squad, Central sent 15 younger wrestlers to the Buena Vista Open. Notably, Griffen McBride (freshman, Plesantville) went 4-0 and won the 184-pound B bracket title.
“We’re really excited about getting some of our younger guys competing at Buena Vista,” Van Kley said. “They’re working extremely hard and we’re excited to see them compete also.”
Closing out the first semester with a home dual, Central will host Nebraska Wesleyan University for the first time. The dual against the second-year program will start at 7 p.m. in P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium.