UWO wrestlers qualify for nationals


Courtesy of Concordia University of Wisconsin / Luc Valdez pins his oppenent in the second day of the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Regional.

Brandon Cobb, Staff Writer

Seniors Luc Valdez and Beau Yineman both punched their tickets to the NCAA Division III Championship with two second place finishes at the Upper Midwest Regional on Feb. 25.

Both Yineman, who wrestles at 197 pounds, and Vladez, who wrestles at 125 pounds, would lose their first place matches in closely contested overtimes. The match was the first double-overtime of Yineman’s lifelong wrestling career.

Along with them, senior Denis Murphy placed fifth and junior Cody Welker placed sixth, falling short of a spot in the national championship but allowing the Titans to place ninth overall in the tournament.

Head wrestling coach Aaron Konitzer said the effort led to success for the Titans at regionals.

“We had a high effort and we took ninth as a team which is in the top half,” Konitzer said. “If you look at our region you can see a lot of nationally ranked teams. I was pleased with us competing with them and just getting after it.”

This is Yineman’s second consecutive national championship appearance and both Yineman and Valdez’s final appearance within collegiate wrestling. Yineman said he’s looking forward to returning to the national stage.

“Thinking about last year’s tournament, it was just really fun,” Yineman said. “I’m looking forward to going down there and having fun because of the environment and the bigger stage.”

Looking ahead towards the NCAA D-III Championship, the wrestling program is gearing up for the biggest stage of their wrestling season. Konizter said that both wrestlers have been preparing for nationals throughout the season.

“I fully expect both of them to be contending for a spot at the podium,” Konitzer said. “It’s just a matter of how high they get up. They both have wrestled some tough competition throughout the year. Not just Division-III, D-I, D-II and junior college. We definitely had a tough schedule for them and I think they are battle tested.”

Yineman said that the big stages are where he performs the best.

“I enjoy that [nationals] environment more. It’s a good time,” Yineman said. “Mentally I was okay at the big stage last year when I wrestled and when I wrestled at state in high school. It’s not something that’s gonna throw off my philosophy. If anything, it encourages me to go out there, wrestle, have fun, relax and not overthink and do what I have been doing all season.”

Both seniors Yineman and Valdez will be wrestling on March 10 for number one in the nation at the D-III level at Roanoke, Virginia.

“All we can do is control our effort,” Konitzer said. “We can’t control how other people train or scout us or anything else but we can control a high pace and dictate the tides. That’s the stuff we will continue to make adjustments to in the next two weeks.”