Behnke Leads Two Blugold Wrestlers at NCAA Championship

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (Blugolds.com) – UW-Eau Claire freshman Nathaniel Behnke (Bruce, Wis.) took fifth place, earning All-America honors, at the 2013 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship to lead a group of two Blugolds at nationals this weekend.

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Behnke, wrestling at 141 pounds, became just the ninth Blugold in school history to finish as an All-American at nationals. Prior to this season, four Blugolds were NCAA All-Americans while four others were NAIA All-Americans. He is the first Blugold All-American since 2009 when Josh Holforty claimed third at 197 pounds at the NCAA Championship.

While Behnke dropped his opening match 5-2, he then went on to win four in a row. He picked up a 5-2 victory, then won 4-1 and followed with a 1-0 victory Friday night to advance to Saturday's rounds, guaranteeing a finish of no lower than eighth place and All-American status.

On Saturday, he opened the day with a 7-2 victory but fell 5-1 to Wartburg's Thomas Mirocha, the No. 7 seed. Competing in the fifth-place match, he defeated the No. 1 seed from Springfield College, Joseph Grippi, with a 12-2 major decision.

Competing Friday at nationals was Mat Rieckhoff (Jr.-Wausau, Wis./D.C. Everest) at 184 pounds. He lost in his opening match after an injury and then medical forfeited his second match to end his time at nationals.

Behnke finished the season with a 44-13 mark while Rieckhoff finished 26-15.

The last time the Blugolds were represented at nationals was during the 2009-10 season while the last time two Blugolds were at nationals was during the 2002-03 season.

-KM-