PELLA — Continuing to dominant its home tournament, the Central College wrestling team won the Under Armour Invitational Saturday, securing the team crown for a third time in three years.
The Dutch grabbed the team crown with 122.5 points. In its current iteration as the Under Armour Invitational, the tournament has only been scored three times. Placing runner-up in the 13-team field was Morningside College with 85.0 points.
The runner-up at 157 pounds in 2017, 165-pounder Jeremy Vester (junior, Oak Harbor, Wash.) bagged his first Under Armour Invitational championship. He punctuated his 4-0 day by beating the No. 20 wrestler in NAIA, Chris Paulsen of Briar Cliff University.
It was even sweeter for Vester, as his mother flew in from Washington to watch him and his brother Jahleel Vester (senior, 141 pounds, Oak Harbor, Wash.) compete Saturday.
“We take a ton of pride in having out-of state and in state guys,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “It’s super fun to have great support from our family and friends.”
A 4-0 day by C.J. Pestano (senior, Torrance, Calif.) made the 125-pounder a four-time champion of the event. For the title, Pestano downed Devon Jackson of the University of the Ozarks (Ark.) 13-1 in a rematch of last year’s final. The No. 3 rated wrester in Division III, Pestano is now 17-0 on the season.
“It really says something about his consistency,” Van Kley said. “It’s totally the result of his hard work and commitment. He’s earned every single bit of it.”
Cam Timok (junior, 133 pounds, Glen Allen, Va., Hermitage HS) and Nathan Fritz (sophomore, 184 pounds, Sigourney)each finished as bracket champions. Losing in the finals, Daniel Radcliffe (sophomore, Lockport, Ill., Lockport Township HS) andDuncan Lee (sophomore, Newton) finished runner-up at 141 and 197 pounds, respectively.
At 184 pounds, freshmen Wayne Sommerlot (Pocahontas Area) and Griffen McBride (Pleasantville) both rebounded from semifinal losses to earn a share of third place. Sommerlot won all three of his matches by fall, while McBride had a pin and a technical fall.
“I think that competition and depth has made our team what it is right now,” Van Kley said. “We had a few weights in which several guys wrestled well and that only makes our team better.”
Jordan Challen (junior, Jefferson, Greene County HS) took third at 149 pounds while Tristan Clark (junior, Prairie City, PCM HS) and Lane Rumelhart (junior, Guthrie Center) placed fourth at 149 pounds and 174 pounds, respectively.
Van Kley was able to enter 39 wrestlers, giving some of the younger student-athletes crucial experience on the mat.
“Those matches are building blocks for us,” Van Kley said. “We need those opportunities to continue to get better. It was awesome to see so many guys competing today.”
A non-conference dual at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota will keep the season rolling next Thursday night.