The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Four GV men’s wrestlers head to National Championships

HC Joey Simcoe named Coach of the Year
Courtesy GVSU Athletics

Competing at the NCAA Super Region 3 Tournament on Saturday, March 2, the No. 17 ranked Grand Valley State University men’s wrestling team (13-7) faced multiple ranked opponents and finished fourth overall, while sending four wrestlers further in the postseason.

To qualify for the NCAA Division II National Championship, an individual wrestler must finish top three in their weight class out of the 12 competing wrestlers. The Lakers were able to successfully send four wrestlers to nationals, those being sophomore Chris Donathan, redshirt sophomore Josh Kenny, senior Seth Konynenbelt and redshirt sophomore Wyatt Miller.

The regional tournament was hosted at West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia. The Lakers had already faced many of the 12 teams that were present previously in the regular season.

GVSU head coach Joey Simcoe, who was recently named Coach of the Year for the NCAA Super Region 3 by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, explained how the team prepares for their big matches.

“Once we are aware of our wrestler’s matchups, we watch film and begin game planning to try and get the best preparation for our team,” Simcoe said. “We work different situations, with live wrestling, and hope that our preparation gives us the advantage in the match.”

Ranked No. 4 nationally in the 149-pound weight class, Donathan’s first match was in the quarterfinal round against Kaelob Pearce from Bluefield State University. Within the first minute of the match, Donathan swiftly put up 19 points, giving him the win by technical fall.

In the semifinals, Donathan faced Nolan Gessler from Tiffin University. Unlike with his previous opponent, both wrestlers found themselves in a slow match, which lasted roughly 11 minutes. Despite few points being scored, Donathan would maintain the lead and get the win by decision with a score of 9-4, punching his ticket into the finals.

Another slow match ensued in the finals, where against Christian Small from Lake Erie College, Donathan fought to get a small lead. Despite holding the lead for the majority of the match, Small scored a near fall with seconds remaining, putting him ahead in points. 

This final match would be Donathan’s first loss of the season, and currently, with a 24-1 record, he looks to make a strong run at the national tournament.

Also looking to make a nationals run is No. 2 ranked Josh Kenny in the 174-pound class. 

In the quarterfinal round, Kenny faced Gavin Rodriguez-Cayro from Davis & Elkins College. Throughout the first few minutes, Kenny would steadily grow his lead in points and would end the match with a pin.

Next, Kenny faced David Davis from Tiffin in the semifinals. Applying his speed and strength, Kenny overpowered his opponent and won 21-4 by technical fall.

For his final match, Kenny took on Nate Barrett from Ashland University. This match would take up the entire time limit, with back-and-forth takedowns. Ultimately, Kenny outscored his opponent 15-5, taking first place in his weight class with a win by major decision.

Wrestling in the 184-pound class for the Lakers was Seth Konyenbelt. In the quarterfinals, he barely escaped with a 3-2 win against Lucas Salmon from Tiffin. Konyenbelt would then fall to Daniel Beemer from Ashland in the semifinal round. Still with an opportunity to finish in third place in the competition, Konyenbelt went on to win his next two rounds to secure the third-place finish.

Having to rebound after losing in the semifinals, Konyenbelt said he kept a determined mindset throughout the tournament.

“Each match revolves around trust,” Konyenbelt said. “I trust in my coaches that they have prepared me physically and technically. I also have to trust in myself to be able to execute during the match.”

The final wrestler to qualify for nationals was Wyatt Miller in the 197-pound class. Miller started with a win by technical fall, 20-2, in the quarterfinal against Crue Cooper from Davenport University. Miller would then lose in the semifinals and be put in the third-place bracket. In the same fashion as Konyenbelt, Miller went on to win his next two matches to secure third place.

As the lone senior on the team, Konyenbelt said he is “excited going into the tournament knowing it is my last couple of matches. Knowing I am not returning next year, I am excited to wrestle every match like it is my last.”

All four wrestlers, Donathan, Kenny, Konynenbelt and Miller, will compete for a national championship at the NCAA competition in Wichita, Kansas on March 15 and 16.

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