JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Midland University sent five wrestlers into semifinal matches, led by Junior Stephon Gray’s second-place finish, at University of Jamestown’s Jimmie Open in Jamestown, N.D. Saturday’s performances came on the heels of a 21-17 conference dual victory over Jamestown on Friday to open the 2017-18 season.
“I feel good about the way we competed today,” Midland Head Coach Dana Vote said. “I feel like we made a lot of adjustments from (Friday) night. It was nice to finally get out and compete. Now we will get back in the room and improve in the areas that need work.”
Gray, a 165-pounder, moved into the finals with decisions over Dakota Wesleyan’s Forrest Lewis, Concordia’s Joseph Heinz, and Warner Pacific’s Timmy Riviera. In the finals, he lost in a major decision to Blake Perryman of Northern State.
Brandon Johnson, Aaron Rafalko and Adam Ball each pinned their way through the first two rounds of the tournament.
Johnson, wrestling at 285 pounds, won by fall over Saskatchewan’s Kalin Langford in 43 seconds and teammate Kendall Farr in 41 seconds in the first two rounds before losing by decision to Dominik Urena of the University of Mary in the semifinals. Johnson would meet teammate Rafalko in the third-place match, winning by medical forfeit.
Rafalko advanced to the semifinal by pinning Warner Pacific’s Alvaro Venegas in 1 minute and Concordia’s Bryce Kallenbach in 2:04. In the semifinal match, Rafalko lost a 2-0 decision to University of Mary’s Dominic Tudor.
Ball, who took fourth place at 197 pounds, pinned his opening-round opponent, Saskatchewan’s Austin Shopa, in 44 seconds and his quarterfinal opponent, Northern State’s Justice Horn, in 1:08.
Rafael Vargas brought home a fourth-place finish at 125 pounds. He opened the tournament by pinning Northern State’s Juan Castellanos in 1:03, followed by a 9-6 decision over Mary’s Jeremy Leintz. He lost a technical decision to Concordia’s Cole Kubesh in the semifinal and lost by medical forfeit over Jamestown’s Jesse Barajas in the third-place match.
Dominique Evans captured a fifth-place finish. Evans opened with a 6-4 decision over Missouri Baptist’s Bryce Bachowski before dropping a 3-1 decision to Rudy Guillen in the quarterfinal. Evans then scored a major decision and a decision to reach the fifth-place match, where he won a 14-8 decision over Jamestown’s Brandon Aragon.
“I am proud of Dom for bouncing back from his loss in the dual last night to beating the same guy by six today,” Vote said.
Cooper Self finished sixth at 174 pounds, dropping his opening match and making his way through the consolation bracket. In his first consolation match, Self pinned Saskatchewan’s Trent Siemaens in 1:34 and then won an 18-0 technical fall over Mary’s Jonathan Pelach in the second round. He scored a 4-0 decision in the consolation semifinal over Missouri Baptist’s Dustin Jones before losing a 5-3 decision over Nicholas Olejnik of Missouri Baptist in the fifth-place match.
The Warriors opened the season on Friday night with a 21-17 dual victory over conference rival Jamestown. Ball and Rafalko pinned their opponents with Michael Robles, Gray and Self scoring decisions in the victory.
Midland returns to action Saturday, November 11 at the Dakota Wesleyan Open in Mitchell, South Dakota.