Regional wrestling title for Central’s Lee

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DUBUQUE— Central college wrestling senior Duncan Lee (Newton) stunned the field with a title at 285 pounds in the NCAA Division III Lower Midwest Regional Sunday and will be joined by two of his teammates at the NCAA Division III Championships.

Senior Nathan Fritz (Sigourney) was second at 184 pounds and sophomore Rob Areyano (Selma, Calif.) was third at 149 pounds and are qualified for the national meet.

Central tallied 129.5 team points to finish third in the 18-team field.

“Our team showed such a tremendous overall effort, top to bottom,” coach Eric Van Kley said. “I couldn’t be any prouder of the toughness we showed. Our teamwork and camaraderie contributed to such a special weekend.”

Lee was unranked entering the weekend but rattled off four wins to win his first regional championship and punch his ticket to the national meet for the first time. He had a 3-2 overtime win against the No. 8 ranked wrestler in the country, Wartburg College’s Jordan Brandon, in the semifinals. He punctuated the weekend with a 6-5 victory over Loras College’s Wyatt Wriedt in the title bout.

“The majority of the coaches thought (285 pounds) was the deepest weight class,” Van Kley said. “To win that class was nothing short of remarkable. He deserves so much credit for his work ethic and commitment. Our new assistant coach Brad Steele has been a tremendous part of his improvement.”

Fritz defeated Cornell College’s Bryce Oveson 9-6 in the semifinals to secure his second trip to the national meet before dropping an 8-4 decision against North Central College’s Cody Balridge in the final.

“It’s so special that he can get another shot at nationals,” Van Kley said. “He’s such a tremendous example for our team on and off the mat.”

Areyano took a difficult path to earn his spot in the national meet. Losing his semifinal match 8-5 to Anthony Rink (North Central), Areyano won consecutive major decisions on the backside to secure his spot, knocking off Augustana College’s (Ill.) Freddy Terranova 12-0 and Coe College’s Josh Gerke 18-7.

“He really let it fly in that last match,” Van Kley said. “It was probably his best match of the tournament.”

The season ended for three Dutch wrestlers in the third-place matches. Shandon Akeo (junior, 133 pounds, Honolulu, Hawaii, Kapolei HS), Daniel Radcliffe (senior, 141 pounds, Lockport, Ill., Lockport Township HS) and Griffen McBride (junior, 174 pounds, Pleasantville HS) all came up one win short of joining their teammates in the national tournament.

Collin Groleau (senior, 165 pounds, Peru, Ill., LaSalle-Peru Township HS) and Gavin Babcock (junior, Altoona, Southeast Polk HS) earned sixth and eighth-place finishes, respectively.

The NCAA Division III Championships are scheduled for March 13-14 in Cedar Rapids.