The St. Cloud State men’s wrestling team was in a record-setting position last March. They had just captured the Husky’s first national team championship in school history. And they just did it again. The Huskies amassed 90 points, behind freshman Brett Velasquez, who defeated Willy Bohince in convincing fashion to give the Huskies a commanding lead in the NCAA Division II tournament Saturday, March 12 in Sioux Falls, S.D. They finished 8 points ahead of the runner-up, Notre Dame (OH) who finished with 82 points.
Velasquez didn’t fall once in the tournament, capturing 4 wins en route to his first national championship. Velasquez is the 12th different wrestler to win a national championship for SCSU. He earned NSIC Rookie of the Year honors after recording a 25-2 record, which included a 9-0 record in dual meets.
The national championship marks the second ever in school history, across all sports. Coach Steve Costanzo was named the 2016 NWCA Coach of the Year after an impressive 16-1 dual record and a #2 final ranking in the regular season polls. Costanzo has now led the Huskies to three second-place finishes, and two national championships in the last five years.
SCSU finished first in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) and finished with a 8-0 conference record. The Huskies have now won five consecutive NSIC conference titles.
Other wrestlers with notable placings include junior Austin Goergen who finished 3rd at 285 pounds, senior Clint Poster who finished 3rd at 165, senior Jay Hildreth who finished 4th at 149 pounds, and senior Matt Nelson who finished 5th at 141 pounds. All seven of its athletes in the tournament were awarded All-America honors.
The Huskies were also recognized for their academics, as eight members of the team were awarded Division II All-Academic honors. Those recognized were senior Clint Poster, senior Tim Prescott, freshman Brett Velasquez, junior Luke Belich, junior Joel Berg, sophomore Travis Holt, junior Joel Salomon, freshman Curt Zachmeier. Each received at least a minimum 3.00 grade point average while maintaining status on the varsity team, as well as two letters of recommendation from his academic advisor and coach.
There was a celebration held at the Atwood Memorial Center lounge Wednesday afternoon, where fans had an opportunity to see the championship trophy. The event included appearances from St. Cloud State athletics director Heather Weems, head coach Steve Costanzo, and a number of the wrestlers. Afterwards, a highlight reel video was played showcasing the team’s run in the NCAA tournament.
The wrestling team saw more hardware come its way at the annual NSIC awards Friday. Six wrestlers were awarded 2015-16 All-NSIC First Team honors, which included Goergen (285 lbs.), Hildreth (149 lbs.), Jennissen (174 lbs.), Nelson (141 lbs.), Poster (165 lbs.), and Velasquez (125 lbs.). Junior Uthman Rabiu was also awarded All-NSIC Second Team honors.
Poster also took home the NSIC Wrestler of the Year award. Poster ended his career as a four-time All-NSIC First Team member, and amassed 146 wins, to cement himself as the winningest wrestler in SCSU program history.
The Huskies will also have a very talented recruiting class for next season. State champion and Rosemount native Adam Hedin has committed to St. Cloud State. Hedin capped off a 45-0 season in the 2014-15 season as he captured the state title at 132 pounds. Other recruits for the Huskies include Jake Barzowski from Park Ridge, Ill., Devon Berry from Atlanta, Ga., Kyle Betourne from Bourbonnais, Ill., Mahtomedi native Devin Fitzpatrick, Matt Hebel from Broomfield, Co., and Collin Kraus from Stoughton, Wi.