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COLLEGE WRESTLING

College wrestling: UW-La Crosse wins NWCA national dual championship

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The UW-La Crosse wrestling program broke new ground on Friday. It’s just starting to resonate with coach Dave Malecek.

He came to La Crosse for this, and the Eagles have shared space in conversations about the top NCAA Division III teams in the country throughout his 16-year tenure.

Dave Malecek mug

Malecek

Putting too much emphasis on winning the NWCA national duals can be dangerous when it falls right in the middle of the season, but the Eagles have chased that title for years.

The chase is over, and Malecek believes it will do nothing but make his program even better.

The fourth-ranked Eagles closed out the two-day tournament with a 21-16 semifinal victory over second-ranked North Central (Ill.) and 31-9 championship win over third-ranked Wabash (Ind.) to become Wisconsin’s first team on any level to win a team dual national title.

“Can you believe it?” Malecek asked. “Since they started this national meet, no one has won it except Augsburg (Minn.) and Wartburg (Iowa). One of those two teams had won it every year, and we’d been in the finals before this.

“To win it and break through to do something like this feels great.”

La Crosse won eight of 10 matches against Wabash to put an exclamation point on two big days that resulted in the ability to make history. The Eagles have placed fifth or better in seven of the past 11 national dual meets and finished second in 2011.

La Crosse scored the first 19 points to quickly bury Wabasha in the championship dual. Brandon Murphy started things on the right foot with a 5-3 sudden victory over Carlos Champagne at 125 pounds, and the Eagles rolled from there.

“That was a really big upset in overtime that we got, and we got another one at 149 pounds,” Malecek said. “We just won the close ones, and that changed the tune in the dual itself. (The outcome) was a little lopsided, but it was closer than the score indicates.”

Jake Mandt used an 8-6 sudden victory over TJ Driessens at 149 to keep things going for the Eagles, who host No. 25 Whitewater on Thursday at Mitchell Hall.

Malecek singled out matches at 141, 157 and 184 as important ones when analyzing the matchup ahead of time. Tyler Shackle won his match at 141 by pin, Nolan Hertel won at 157 by major decision, and Holmen High School graduate Kalyn Jahn won by pin for the second time on championship day at 184.

“We needed to win those, and we did,” Malecek said. “Kalyn Jahn from Holmen is on a tear right now.”

Jahn (9-1) pinned all four of his opponents in the tournament and finished Wabash’s Charles Baczek in 1 minute, 42 seconds.

“It hasn’t really hit yet that we won a national dual title,” Malecek said. “It’s crazy. No one else in the state of Wisconsin has done that, and I’m proud of the guys.

“We still have some great duals ahead of us, and we’re excited about it.”

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