Larson and Pieper Named NWCA Scholar All-Americans


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - For the first time in school history, the Trine University wrestling team sent three wrestlers to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships. The Thunder came home finishing in a tie for 35th with 10.5 points as two of their three men picked up a victory on the weekend.

For the third consecutive year at 157 pounds, senior Eli Larson (Chicago, Ill./Marion Catholic) earned All-American honors with an eighth place finish. Larson opened the tournament by pinning Jon Garrison from Mount Union in the second period of their match at 5:23. In his second round match, the top seeded Larson fell in a heartbreaker 6-5 on riding time to eighth seeded Cade Sarbacker from Wis.-Whitewater.

In the wrestlebacks, Larson earned his second pin of the tournament over Kevin Fynboh from Concordia (MN) at 2:08 in the first round of their match. Larson would be unable to continue in his final two matches as he finished eighth in the tournament, which earned him his third All-American honors.

In the 125 pound weight class, sophomore Brandon Preston (Logansport, Ind./Logansport) fell just a win shy of also earning All-American honors. In the first round, the seventh seeded Preston took down Will McCarthy from Concordia (MN) by a major decision 10-2. In the second round, Preston fell to unseeded Christopher Donaldson from Ursinus 8-3.

Preston would fall in the opening match of the wrestlebacks to Mike Fuenffinger from Augsburg by pinfall in the opening period.

Also wrestling in his final collegiate match, senior Ryan Pieper (Onsted, Mich./Onsted) made the national tournament for the second straight season. Pieper would have a tough weekend as he dropped both of his matches. In the opening round Pieper fell to top seeded, and eventual national champion, Kyle Kwiat from Ohio Northern 9-3. Pieper was one of only two opponents to score a point on Kwait in the tournament. In the wrestlebacks, Pieper suffered a pinfall loss to Matt Burns from Augustana at 4:23 of their match.

It was also announced during the tournament that Larson and Pieper were named to the National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-American team. Larson earned the honor for the third straight season and Pieper for the second consecutive year.

To be eligible as a Scholar All-American, a wrestler must have at least a 3.2 GPA and a sophomore standing. Wrestlers must also either place in the top six at their respective regional tournament and have a .500 winning percentage or a .670 winning percentage and compete in 50 percent of the teams competitions.