Falcons Place Six At Northern Colorado Open
Greeley, Colo. -- In his first appearance of the 2005-06 season, senior Matt Benza (Tamaqua, Pa.) won his weight class to lead the Air Force wrestling team at the Old Chicago Northern Colorado Open held Saturday at the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. Meanwhile, five other Falcons also finished as placewinners in the tournament.
Benza, ranked 19th nationally at 133 pounds by the NWCA, picked up four wins en route to his title at 133 pounds, including a fall against Levi Younkin of Colby CC to reach the championship match. There he picked up a 13-6 decision over Western Wyoming's Dave Beagley to earn the Falcons' only individual title of the day.
Sophomore Jake Kriegbaum (Abilene, Kan.) finished as a placewinner for the second weekend in a row, this time placing third at 141 pounds. After dropping a decision to Northwest College's Cody Moulton in the second round, Kriegbaum rattled off six straight victories, which included two falls and two major decisions. Along the way, the sophomore had a rematch with Moulton, this time earning a fall in 2:22, before registering a major decision over Jacob Sheridan of Adams State in the third-place bout.
The Falcons had two placewinners at 149 pounds, as juniors Matt Crippes (Cloverdale, Calif.) and Bridger Lord (Missoula, Mont.) finished second and third, respectively. Crippes recorded four wins on the afternoon, including two falls and a 9-2 decision over teammate Chris Szabolcs (So., Westlake, Ohio), before moving into the championship bout against Western State's Camille DuPont. There, Crippes suffered a defeat, falling in 1:44 to end the day as the runner-up.
Meanwhile, Lord's only loss of the day also came to DuPont, who earned a 10-0 major decision over the Falcon in the semifinal round. However, Lord advanced in the wrestlebacks, eventually winning a 9-5 decision over Northern Colorado's Kyle Levalley to finish third.
Air Force also had two placewinners in the 197-pound weight class, as senior Kurt Skarstedt (Colorado Springs, Colo.) finished third, while freshman Billy Blumhoefer (Cambridge, Minn.) came in fourth. After losing a close 3-2 decision to Fort Hays State's Dustin Trego in the second round, Skarstedt went on to win four more bouts en route to his third-place showing. Four of his five victories came by fall, including the final match, when he pinned teammate Blumhoefer in a time of 3:55. Blumhoefer, who was sent into the consolation bracket with a 4-3 loss to Chad Seely of Montana State-Northern, recorded three falls of his own on Saturday, but was relegated to fourth place with his loss to Skarstedt.
Air Force returns to the mat next weekend, Nov. 26, when it travels to Norman, Okla., for the Oklahoma Open.