Wrestlers claim runner-up trophy

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tad Merritt

The St. Cloud State University wrestling team placed second at the 2012 NCAA Division II championships on March 9-10 in Pueblo, Colo. This marked the second consecutive season that the Huskies have gained runner-up honors at the NCAA championships under the leadership of Coach Steve Costanzo. Nebraska Kearney won the tournament with 107 points and St. Cloud State finished with 95 team points.

Senior Derek Skala, Owatonna, brought home an NCAA Division II individual championship at 184 pounds. Skala (31-3) finished his career with a National Championship exclamation point, after a stellar 9-3 win in his 184-pound match against Adam Walters of Findlay. This marks the second consecutive season that SCSU has won an individual title as John Sundgren placed first at 157 in 2011.

Husky wrestlers placing second at the NCAAs included junior Jake Kahnke, Shakopee at 285 pounds and junior Andy Pokorny, Bennington, Neb., at 133 pounds.

Skala, Kahnke and Pokorny earned All- America honors for their top finishes. Three other SCSU wrestlers earned All- America accolades including senior Tad Merritt, Canby who placed third at 165 pounds, junior Shamus O’Grady, Coon Rapids with a fourth place finish at 174 and senior Lucas Munkelwitz, Forest Lake with his fourth place at 197.

Merritt earned the tournament’s Most Dominate Wrestler Award, which he won despite wrestling with a broken finger that he suffered in practice before the tournament Merritt set a new team record with 144 career wins. Merritt also set a new team record with 18 pins, which breaks his old team record of 17 pins set in 2008-09.

The 95 points scored at the NCAA meet set a new team record for points at a national championship tournament breaking last year’s mark of 90.5.

The Huskies set a team record with 21 dual meet victories and posted the first undefeated dual meet season at 21-0. Other accomplishments included winning the 2012 NCAA Division II Super Region 3 title, the 2012 NWCA Division II National Duals title and the NSIC championship, the team’s first conference title since 1977-78.

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