WJU Wins Three at Desert Duals

LAS VEGAS – In the farthest west the four-year program has ever competed, the Cardinals shined in the Christmas season in Sin City. The Wheeling Jesuit wrestling team upset No. 8 Cal Baptist and tied Division III’s No. 1 rated Wartburg between solid victories over Warner Pacific and traditional top 10 Minnesota State Moorhead Monday.

After winning seven matches, the Cardinals (5-1) started the morning with a 28-9 victory over NAIA Warner Pacific. In the second morning session, heavyweight Maxwell Lacey’s third-period takedown propelled him to a 7-3 win and sealed WJU’s upset 22-17 win over Cal Baptist.

Building a 21-6 advantage, WJU was unable to hold it as DIII’s No. 1 Wartburg won the final four bouts for a 21-21 tie and win on criteria. The Cardinals took out their third-match frustrations against the Dragons, 34-6, in an eight-win dual.

“(Monday) was a big step for our program. To go 3-1, beat a top 10 team, a top 25 team in the country and lose on criteria to a powerhouse Wartburg program, it says a lot about our guys,” said WJU coach Sean Doyle. “We planned this trip to thank our seniors for the commitment to start this program and it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come. Our guys were behind each other all day and battled extremely hard in every position. Wartburg ran a fantastic event. We were happy to be part of it.”

One of the Cardinals seniors, 149-pounder Dominick Nania could not be stopped. He posted an impressive day with three tech falls and one fall in his four matches. The senior won his opening matches 15-0 and 16-1, before he pinned the No. 6-ranked DIII wrestler Cross Cannone in 1:15. Nania finished his day with an 18-0 shutout tech fall.

Dustin Warner (133) won a decision and added a fall (5:37) in his two matches, while both Greg Brusco (157) and Daniel Romero (141) recorded 3-1 days. After a first match forfeit, Brusco registered a tech fall (16-0) versus Cal Baptist and wrapped up the day with a fall in 3:58 over Minn. State Moorhead.

The freshman battled hard, but fell to the top 157-pounder in DIII Logan Thomsen by a 12-5 decision.

T.J. Smith (165), Nate Starkey (184) and Terrance Fanning (197) were all 2-2 in four bouts. Starkey had a fall in 3:48 and Fanning a 17-1 tech fall against their Moorhead foes.

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