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Tiger wrestlers set sights on conference championship

In coming off its most successful season in 10 years, the Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling team is looking for more.

The Tigers’, who were 7-5 in duals and 4-2 in conference meets last season, stated goal is to win a Great Plains Athletic Conference championship.

“We have guys who were All-Americans that want to go back and do it again,” DWU wrestling coach Matt Sedivy said. “We also have some guys with national tournament experience that want to reach All-American status.”

The Tigers come into the season ranked 10th in the NAIA national polls. DWU also features several wrestlers who are ranked in the top five of their respective weight classes. Leading the way for the Tigers are junior Trever DeVestern, senior Richard Rios, junior Dusty Paulsen, senior Tyler Sarringar and junior Kyle Gerlach.

DeVestern and Paulsen each finished seventh at the NAIA national tournament last season, earning All-American status. Paulsen, a 149-pounder, compiled a 20-12 record last season, while DeVestern went 19-9 at 157 pounds.

Sedivy is enjoying watching practice because of the competition level between his wrestlers.

“If you are in our lineup then you are expected to produce,” Sedivy said. “There are times that there is great wrestling in the room and I just laugh because it is fun to watch.”

Gerlach, Sarringar and Rios each competed in the NAIA national tournament last year, but did not earn All-American status.

Gerlach, a Mount Vernon native, competed at 157 pounds last year and finished with a team-leading 23 wins, Rios, a 133-pounder, was 14-5 and Sarringar, a Pierre native, was 20-8.

“We have some kids who wrestled up to their potential last season,” Sedivy said. “We have some guys that were All-Americans, but unless they do it again this year, it doesn’t really matter.”

Heading into the season, four Tigers are ranked nationally. DeVestern is ranked fourth at 157 pounds, Paulsen is ranked fourth at 149 pounds, Rios is ranked fifth at 133 and Nick Hutcheson is ranked 10th at 165.

Sedivy said Paulsen will begin the season at 157 and work his way down to the 149 weight class, in which he is the fourth-ranked wrestler. As for DeVestern, Sedivy said he would start the season at 165.

“I think it is going to be kind of a progressive movement,” Sedivy said. “There are going to be a lot of changes throughout the season. We definitely won’t finish with the lineup we start out with.”

Sedivy added Ryan Roach will help the squad and senior Eric Gruis is also expected to participate, provided he heals from injuries accumulated during football season.

The Tigers kick off their season today in a dual against the University of Regina at 6 p.m. at the Christen Family Wellness Center in Mitchell.