NAPERVILLE, IL — In what head coach Andy Peterson cited as a historically difficult tournament, the Maranatha Baptist University wrestling team showed reason to be excited as the season progresses.
“We made significant progress at what has been a difficult tournament, with many high-ranked wrestlers and teams,” stated Peterson.
Two wrestlers stood out though, juniors Ricky Warren (Watertown, WI) and Jesse Gjefle (Ontario, WI), both having posted strong wins over quality opponents.
Warren, who lost an opening round match, 7-1 to Hector Ruiz (Augustana) in the 149 weight-class, followed up with an impressive 7-4 decision win over Coll Robertson (North Central), that advanced him to a match against James Carey (Alma).
Against Carey, Warren put up stiff resistance, and nearly had a chance to win before succumbing to a slim, 6-5 decision.
Peterson cited Gjefle’s continued improvement in his transition from football to wrestling, pointing out Gjefle’s strong performance against his opponent’s on Saturday.
Gjefle, in the 184 weight-class, competed tough in his first match against Dan Murray (Augustana), an 11-2 loss, but the junior from Ontario, WI found his rhythm shortly afterwards, posting a 9-6 win by decision over Vincent Pizzo (North Central). Gjefle would face a difficult opponent in his last match though, taking a 13-2 loss at the hands of Paul Mikhjian (Alma), that bumped him from the tournament.
Peterson was also encouraged by several other strong showings, particularly John Walton (Fayetteville, N.C.) and Oliver Klein (Alexandria, VA). “John is showing significant improvement in his wrestling, and Oliver has continued to work through the learning curve, pulling off several really entertaining scrambles,” said Peterson.
In the 141 weight-class, Zach Zimmerman (Trevor, WI) faced the #2 seed in the tournament before taking a loss by fall, and also took a technical fall loss in his second match.
The wrestling team’s next competition will be January 11th at the Flash Flanagan Open in Dubuque, IA.