The Loras College wrestling team led all programs and landed a program-best nine wrestlers on the American Rivers Conference (A-R-C) All-Conference team on Thursday in addition to Guy Patron Jr. (’20) winning the Most Valuable Performer honor and head coach TJ Miller bringing home his fourth Coach of the Year Award this season.
The 30-member team is composed of the top three A-R-C place-winners at the NCAA Division III Lower Midwest Regional Championships. In a “normal” year, the wrestler(s) who finished highest at the NCAA Championship is deemed the A-R-C Most Valuable Performer(s). With no NCAA Championship, the 2020 Most Valuable Performer was nominated and voted on by the league’s head coaches. Freshman and Coach of the Year awards are voted on by the head coaches.
Patron Jr. capped off his impressive career with the league’s highest honor after posting an overall record of 21-0 this season. He placed second at the NCAA Division III Central Region Championship at 197 lbs. and was looking to become the program’s first four-time All-American at the National Championship until the season was cut short. He was the No. 1-ranked grappler at 197 lbs. and battled through a lower leg injury at the regional championship to advance to the championship. He was seeded as the top wrestler in his weight class for the national championship. Patron Jr. started off his collegiate career as the conference’s Freshman of the Year and has been an All-Conference honoree each of his years with the Duhawks. On the national stage, Patron Jr. placed third as a freshman, runner-up as a sophomore and sixth as a junior. The Harvey, La. native garnered national attention as well, earning a spot on SportsCenter on Mar. 24 and being tabbed as one of the top-20 most dominant Division III wrestlers, ranking No. 5.
Miller completed his fourth season at the helm of the program with the most successful campaign in program history. Under his direction, the Duhawks compiled an undefeated conference record after they snapped Wartburg College’s 27-year stronghold on the A-R-C title and the Knights’ 220 consecutive conference dual streak on Feb. 14. Loras started off the season ranked No. 1 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) poll and ended the season ranked No. 1. Loras had eight wrestlers qualify for the national championship, tying Augsburg University’s total. At the regional championship, both Miller and his assistant coach Trevor Kittleson earned Regional Coach of the Year honors and Miller was the NWCA National Coach of the Year. Miller was also named the Regional Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season. This is Miller’s third conference coach of the year award (2020, 2019, 2017).
Matt Randone (’20) earned his first career All-Conference honor at 125 lbs. after placing fifth at the regional championship and compiling a record of 17-8 on the season. Returning All-American Clint Lembeck (’20) earned his third All-Conference accolade at 141 lbs. following a third place finish at the regional championship and a season record of 14-2. After transferring to Loras this season, Daniel Ruiz (’22) was an All-Conference selection at 149 lbs. and was the regional runner-up.
Brandon Murray (’20) put together another dominant season at 157 lbs., earning his second career All-Conference award after winning the regional championship. The returning All-American tallied an overall record of 24-2 on the season and led the Duhawks with 11 pins. Returning All-American Eddie Smith (’20) compiled an overall record of 15-6 at 165 lbs. and earned his third career All-Conference honor for placing third at the regional championship. Returning All-American Jacob Krakow (’21) is now a two-time All-Conference selection at 174 lbs. following his second place finish at the regional championship.
Shane Liegel (’23) was one of four freshmen in the conference to garner All-Conference honors after a phenomenal rookie season in which he placed third at the regional championship at 184 lbs. He owns an overall record of 26-5 and ranks second on the team with ten pins. Wyatt Wriedt (’23) rounded out the Duhawks’ all-conference honors at 285 lbs. with an overall record of 21-10 and nine pins this season in addition to a runner-up regional performance.