Loras Wreslters Shane Liegel (’23) and Wyatt Wriedt (’23) are national champions!
The No. 9-ranked Loras College wrestling team completed the 2021 season on a high note at the 2021 NWCA Division III Wrestling Championship, earning a program-record nine All-Americans as well as crowning two national champions in Liegel at 184 lbs. and Wriedt at 285 lbs.
Liegel left Coralville, Iowa as the best wrestler in his weight class by being crowned the 184-pound champion. Liegel, who became the first Duhawk champion since James Buss in 2014, cruised the semifinals by collecting a fall, technical fall and decision to face off against familiar foe (6) Ira Kuehn of Luther. After being tied at two points apiece in the third period, Liegel sunk in a deep arm bar to pin Kuehn at the 5:35 mark. In the finals, Liegel toed the line against top-seeded Paul Detwiler of USCGA and proved the seeding committee wrong by churning out a decision against the top-ranked Detwiler, bringing the Duhawk faithful to their feet as he became a national champion.
In the final match of the tournament, sixth-seeded Wriedt had his run in the 285-pound weight class culminate in a national title. Wriedt started his journey with two decisions to reach the quarterfinals. Going against conference foe and third-seeded Kaleb Reeves of Coe College, Wriedt avenged a previous loss in 2021 to reach the semifinals. A decision victory over No.2-seed Dominick Wilson of Olivet College meant a matchup with eighth seed Tyler Kim of Augsburg in the finals. In a back-and-forth affair, Wriedt used a late takedown against Kim to become the second national champion of 2021 for the Duhawks which becomes a program first.
Over a two-day period, the Duhawks sent a grappler in all ten weights. At 125 lbs., ninth-seeded Jared Hensley (’22) outperformed his seed by placing seventh. After a bye in the first round, Hensley avenged an earlier loss to eighth seed Dylan McChesney of Simpson College in the Round of 16, defeating McChesney by major decision. After a setback against No. 1 seed Samuel Braswell, Hensley rebounded by winning his blood round match against Brock Davis of Westminster College to claim All-America honors.
Coming in as the twelfth seed, Perry, Iowa native Zach Thompson (’22) turned in a strong performance at 133 lbs. Thompson cruised to the quarterfinals and upset fourth-seed Charlie Pickell of Augsburg University in the final seconds of the 133 lbs. quarterfinal bout. Thompson recorded a hard-earned decision victory over Greensboro College’s Joshua Wilson to score a fifth-place finish and All-America honors.
Wrestling in his first national tournament in the purple and gold and seeded third, Jalen Schropp (’24) rebounded from an early loss to gain All-America honors at 141 lbs. In the blood round, Schropp defeated eighth-ranked Brandon Gross of Augsburg by 8-3 decision to become an All-American as a freshman. Schropp, a native of Williamsburg, Iowa, had his tournament culminate in a sixth-place finish.
Following in his brother Eddie Smith‘s (’20) footsteps, Zeke Smith (’23) ended his first national tournament in fourth place at 149 pounds. Smith, who had a bye to start the tournament, defeated Rob Cleary of New Jersey City University and Adrian College’s Noah Nieman to clinch an All-American trophy. After a setback in the semifinals, Smith rebounded with a decision over Messiah College’s Garret Cornell, ending up as the fourth-place finisher at 149 lbs.
Moving up a weight from last year, Daniel Ruiz (’22) competed in a number of hard-fought matches at 157 lbs., recording a seventh place finish in a tough weight class. Ruiz started his tournament with victories over Ferrum College’s Christian Hite and the United States Coast Guard Academies (USCGA) Anthony Ulaszek to gain a spot in the quarterfinals. After a setback, Ruiz rebounded and gutted out two victories to earn All-American honors and seventh place finish.
Sophomore and Virginia native Gabe Fiser (’23) turned in magical tournament run at 165 lbs. that included a number of upsets and a quadruple overtime victory in the quarterfinals. After scoring an upset win over fifth seed Rafael Roman of North Central College, Fiser matched up with fourth-seed Zarik Anderson of the University of Dubuque. A back-and-forth, action packed bout needed four overtime periods to claim the winner with Fiser seeing his hand raised to become an All-American. Fiser concluded his first national tournament with a fourth-place finish.
Marengo, Iowa native Jacob Krakow (’21) collected his third All-America honor at 174 lbs. Krakow cruised to the semifinals by collecting two major decisions and one decision victory. A setback in the semifinals didn’t distract Krakow from the next best thing, which was earning a third-place medal against Zachary Wells of Olivet College. Krakow displayed a mix of technical skills and the heart of a champion by rebounding on the back side of the bracket to finish in third.
In addition to a program record nine All-Americans and two national champions, the Duhawks compiled a dual record of 6-4 including dual victories over ranked opponents during the shortened 2021 season. The Duhawks will return all ten starters for the 2021-22 season.
Get more information on the Loras Wrestling team at Duhawks.com.