MW’s Walker finishes 3rd at Worthington OpenWORTHINGTON — Two wrestlers from Minnesota West were up against 96 other opponents, all from four-year colleges, in Saturday’s Worthington Open. Philipe Walker and Taylor Andrews were facing tough competition against athletes from D-I Minnesota, No. 1 ranked St. Cloud State, No. 3 ranked Augustana and a handful of other D-I, D-II and NAIA institutions.
WORTHINGTON — Two wrestlers from Minnesota West were up against 96 other opponents, all from four-year colleges, in Saturday’s Worthington Open.
Philipe Walker and Taylor Andrews were facing tough competition against athletes from D-I Minnesota, No. 1 ranked St. Cloud State, No. 3 ranked Augustana and a handful of other D-I, D-II and NAIA institutions.
But despite the odds being against them, the two Bluejays prevailed and finished respectably in their given weight classes.
Andrews was one match away from being a place winner at 197 pounds, while Walker took third place at 133 pounds.
“They both did real well,” MW wrestling coach Bob Purcell said. “Maybe we could’ve done a little better, maybe not. To place third in our tournament you have to wrestle real well though, and Philipe did. We’re the only junior college with all four-year college kids. To get a place winner, I’m happy. To get a place winner out of two, well, I’m really happy with that.”
Walker went 3-1 on the day, losing only one match to Zach Stepan of Minnesota by a 5-4 decision.
The Bluejay grappler had accumulated four minutes of riding time that would’ve been enough to get the win, but Stepan got a takedown in the final seconds to go ahead of Walker.
Walker said that if he had won that match he was sure he would’ve made it to the championship match and had a good chance of winning that as well. But, regardless, Walker recovered nicely and won his final two matches to grab a third place finish.
Walker received a bye in his first match before recording a pin at 2:23 over Northwestern College’s Danny Arceo, defeated Augustana’s Mark Vetter in a 5-3 decision and won by injury default over St. Cloud’s Cody Paulsen in the third-place match.
For Walker, who is being looked at by various D-I and D-II schools, including South Dakota State and Moorhead, said the best part of the tournament was knowing he could compete against top-caliber opponents.
“Knowing I can compete with these guys and they’re on scholarships and I’m not, it just motivates me,” Walker said. “It feels good to compete with these guys because eventually I’ll be wrestling with them at the same level. It’s nice having people notice your talents and ability and knowing I’m capable really pushes me to keep going.”
Walker said his biggest asset in the tournament was that he was able to wrestle with a clear head. The 133-pounder said he easily gets frustrated and that has proven to get in the way of his matches in the past.
But despite a close loss, Walker didn’t let it get to him and found his way to a top finish.
Andrews went 1-2 on the day. His victory came in his second match when he defeated Minnesota’s Alex Daughtery by an 8-6 decision.
His losses came from Shea Nolan of SDSU and unattached wrestler Craig Draper-Johnson. Andrews was pinned in both of those matches.
Overall, however, Walker was pleased with Andrews’ performance.
“My boy Andrews, the best thing about him today was that he was more aggressive,” Walker said. “I’ve been waiting for him to turn it up and he really wrestled with some heart today.”
Overall, the tournament went smoothly. Despite a slight glitch in the computer system and nearly 80 less wrestlers attending because of weather and a scheduling mix-up, Purcell was pleased with the outcome.
Joran Kingsley of Minnesota won at 125 pounds, Devin DeRocher of Briar Cliff won at 133 pounds, while Seth Lange of Minnesota took first at 141 pounds.
There was no winner at 149 pounds as two St. Cloud wrestlers — Brady Johnshoy and Matt Nelson — each decided to forefeit the championship match.
Colby Kloetzter of SDSU took first at 157 pounds and Dillon Geoghagen of Iowa Central CC won at 165 pounds.
There was no winner at 174 pounds as two St. Cloud wrestlers — Ben Mcphail and Jack Barnes — each decided to forfeit the championship match,
Joel Bauman of Minnesota took the 184-pound title, Scott Schiller of Minnesota won at 197 pounds and Cole Wilson of Southwest Minnesota State took the heavyweight title.
“It went very smoothly,” Purcell said. “We had low numbers, but very quality wrestling. This is the 22nd year we’ve done this and it went off without a hitch. Our numbers should be back up next year so it will be an even more successful tournament next time around.”