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DeVestern wins north qualifier, six Tigers headed to national wrestling tournament

Dakota Wesleyan's Ryan Roach, left, wrestles York's Aaron Lopez during wrestlebacks Saturday at the North Qualifier Tournament at the Christen Family Wellness Center in Mitchell. (Aaron Saunders/Republic)2 / 2

Dakota Wesleyan University’s Trever DeVestern’s chances of claiming a championship at the NAIA North Qualifier looked bleak, after he fell behind 5-1 to Morningside’s Malcolm Johnson in the finals of the 165-pound north qualifying tournament Saturday at the Christen Family Wellness Center in Mitchell.

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But DeVestern didn’t panic, he simply started to focus and fight his way back into the match. The junior did that and more, scoring five points to Johnson’s one and tied the match up at six. But DeVestern wanted more, and he got it as he maneuvered his way on top of Johnson to get the pin and claim the 165-pound title.

“I felt like I could dominate,” DeVestern said. “I took a shot in on him and had it, but he came out and sprawled out, we scrambled and he got two (points) on me. I came out and went for another scramble and he got three points. But once I took him over twice I knew I could pin him.”

Prior to Saturday’s matchup Johnson and DeVestern met on to other separate occasions this season. DeVestern won the first matchup by fall at the Buena Vista Open. Johnson took the second match via 12-2 major decision.

“He is a good opponent I give him a lot of respect,” said DeVestern, who is heading to his third NAIA national wrestling tournament. DeVestern finished seventh at the national tournament last year and was named an All-American.

Even though Johnson lost, Morningside still managed to come away with the team victory. The Mustangs amassed 128.5 points, while Concordia finished second with 97 points.

Outside of DeVestern, Wesleyan’s only other wrestler to reach the finals Saturday was 133-pounder Richard Rios. The senior jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on Concordia’s Robert Rivera with a takedown. But Rivera, answered back with six straight points en route to earning a 6-3 win to claim the 133-pound final over Rios.

“After I got the initial takedown, I kind of lost my thought process,” said Rios, who is heading to his fourth straight NAIA national wrestling tournament. “I should have remained focused the entire match. You can’t relax in an intense match like the championships.”

Joining Rios and DeVestern at the national wrestling tournament for DWU will be Kyle Gerlach (149), Dusty Paulsen (149), Ryan Roach (157) and Tyler Sarringar (184).

Saturday Gerlach and Roach each lost true fourth place matches, while Paulsen finished sixth and Sarringar bowed out in the early rounds.

“Overall this wasn’t our best performance,” said DWU wrestling coach Matt Sedivy, who was named the north qualifier tournament’s coach of the year. “Some guys wrestled really well, but there were some guys, who had their worst performances on the biggest day.”

The national wrestling tournament begins March 7 and runs through the March 8, in Topeka, Kan.