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Harer, Hutcheson earn GPAC honors

Two of the Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling team's most consistent performers were honored Tuesday for their regular-season performances. Jordan Harer was named to the All-GPAC second team at 141 pounds and Danny Hutcheson earned honorable me...

Two of the Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling team's most consistent performers were honored Tuesday for their regular-season performances.

Jordan Harer was named to the All-GPAC second team at 141 pounds and Danny Hutcheson earned honorable mention GPAC honors at 149 pounds.

"They've been by far the most consistent wrestlers throughout the year," DWU coach Josh Hardman said. "I think they had good duals. They wrestled well and have been leaders on our team throughout the year, so it's good to see them get some postseason awards."

Harer, a junior who has consistently been the Tigers' top performer all season, is 22-6 with a 7-1 overall dual record and a 3-1 record in GPAC duals. The Gettysburg native was ranked nationally in five of the seven national ratings released this season, and reached as high as No. 3 on Jan. 27.

Harer qualified for his third straight trip to the NAIA naitonal tournament in DWU's first tournament of the season Nov. 8. He also won the DWU Open Nov. 15 and was the GPAC wrestler of the week Dec. 16. Harer went 3-1 at the GPAC championships and took third at 141 pounds.

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Harer has a 61-49 career record and is fourth on the school's all-time win list. He needs 11 more wins to move into third place. The junior is ranked third at 141 pounds in the North Region.

Hutcheson, a sophomore, is 23-11 this season. He has an 8-2 dual record and a 5-1 record in GPAC duals and is currently ranked No. 4 at 149 pounds in the North Region. The sophomore has a 44-32 career record, which leaves him tied for eighth on the school's all-time wins list.

Hutcheson, an Elk Point native, qualified for his first NAIA national tournament appearance Nov. 8. He took third place at the GPAC championships with a 3-1 record.

"Jordan's been ranked so there's no doubt he should have a pretty good shot (doing well at nationals)," Hardman said. "Danny's had pretty good matches with an individual from Morningside who's been ranked, and we think he'll definitely have a chance. They just have to have a good tournament this weekend to have the best opportunity possible at the national tournament."

Harer, Hutcheson and the rest of the Tigers will be at the NAIA North Region Championships hosted by Hastings College this weekend in Hastings, Neb. The regional championships offer one last chance for wrestlers to qualify for the NAIA national championships, which will be March 5-7 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Hardman said that the regional championships decide who wrestles who in each weight class in the first round of the national championships.

"The higher you place at regions, the better off you're going to be (at nationals)," Hardman said. "So the guys need to set themselves up for the best opportunity at nationals. This is the tournament that everybody shoots for to make sure they have everyone clicking on all four cylinders."

Harer and Hutcheson, along with Jeff Holmes, Brandon Goodwin, Todd Casselman, Malik Stewart, Ray Rickenbach and Josh Geppert, have already qualified for the national tournament.

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Hardman said several more of his wrestlers have a good shot at qualifying if they wrestle well this weekend. Tanner LaValliere (157), Blake Hodne and Kyle Henderson at 174 pounds and Billy Murtha at 141 have what it takes to get to the national championships, Hardman said.

"LaValliere came back and got third (at the GPAC championships), and if he has another good weekend he gave himself a very good opportunity to qualify for nationals. I'd say he's right there on the edge," Hardman said. "Our 174-pounders are both juniors and have been in close matches, so if they have a good tournament they could qualify, and also Billy Murtha.

"He's our only senior, and he's wrestling for the last time this weekend if he doesn't get qualified, so I know he'll be pushing hard to get there."

Dana College, which went undefeated in the GPAC during the regular season and won the GPAC tournament, swept the league's individual honors. Ryan Tuzon was named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports wrestler of the year and his teammate, Clayden McKim, was the GPAC championship's outstanding wrestler. Viking coach Beau Vest was named the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports wrestling coach of the year

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