Stratton takes fourth, leads Simpson at Central Regional

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Cory Stratton closed his collegiate wrestling career with a fourth-place finish at 165 pounds to lead Simpson at the NCAA Division III Central Regional hosted by Loras on Saturday.

Simpson took 10th place of 11 teams, scoring 17.5 points, just behind Buena Vista's 24. Wartburg won the meet with 161 points, followed by Luther (122.5) and Dubuque (110.5).

A senior from Grimes, Iowa, Stratton lost a 20-6 major decision to Joe Kubica (Dubuque) in the consolation final that would have ensured him a trip to the national tournament.

"Cory ended his career without any regrets," first-year head coach Nate Hansen said. "He gave us an outstanding effort all season and was wrestling his best at the right time. Unfortunately, he was one match short of qualifying for nationals."

This year marked the first for Division III's new regional format, which replaced the conference championship format used in the past. In the regional format, only the top three wrestlers in each weight class advance to nationals, whereas in the past, the Iowa Conference would be able to select a certain number of "wild cards" to represent the conference at the national meet.

Stratton pinned Farai Sewera (Coe) – ranked in the top 10 at one point – in the first match of the day before losing to Garret Bonte (Luther), 11-1 in the semifinals. He went on to pin Colin Bertucci (Cornell) in 4:48 to advance to the third-place match.

Jeff Sand (141), Jason Clark (149) and Jared Bevins (197) were the other Storm wrestlers to pick up wins at the highly-competitive regional.

Clark lost a tough, 9-6 decision to Ryan Davis (Central) in the first round but picked up a signature win in the second round, beating two-time All-American Chris LeClere (Coe) 11-6 in the consolation bracket. He lost an 11-6 decision to Dakota Gray (Luther) in the consolation semifinals.

The Storm finished the season 1-14 overall and 0-7 in the Iowa Conference, but Hansen saw the team make strides as the season went on.

"The team peaked as a whole at the end of the season," Hansen said. "It's tough to measure the improvement when you don't see the number of wins you want, but everyone battled against many of the best wrestlers in the nation this weekend."

Tournament Report
Wt. Wrestler Record (place)
133 Sam Reichenbacker 0-2
141 Jeff Sand 1-2
149 Jason Clark 1-2
157 Spencer Ward 0-2
165 Cory Stratton 2-2 (4th)
174 Greg Harlow 0-2
184 Taylor Witzel 0-2
197 Jared Bevins 1-2
285 Tony Saucedo 0-2