Hahn prevails as team takes second at NCAAs

SKANSAS CITY, Mo. So much for having it in the bag and just cruising to victory.

Rather than becoming the first team to three-peat the NCAA wrestling title since Iowa’s mind blowing six-straight titles from 1995-2000, Minnesota settled for second place over the weekend at Kemper Arena.

Likewise, Minnesota 133-pounder Ryan Lewis and 149-pounder Jared Lawrence came up just short in their respective championship bouts, earning second place finishes.

Damion Hahn wasn’t about to make it 0-for-3.

The junior 197-pounder won his championship match against Lehigh’s Jon Trenge on Saturday night. And he did so just in the nick of time.

Down 4-3 with 11 seconds to go in the final match on a restart, Hahn – the six seed – caught the top-seeded Trenge on the edge of the circle and gained a two-point takedown with four seconds to go. Hahn held on and earned his first NCAA championship in dramatic fashion.

Oklahoma State overwhelmingly won the team championship with 143 points followed by the Gophers (104.5) and Oklahoma (78).

Lewis, Lawrence and Hahn were joined on the All-America team by fellow Gophers Luke Becker (157, fourth), Jacob Volkmann (165, third) and Bobbe Lowe (125, eighth).

“We came here counting on our good guys doing well and we got that,” Minnesota coach J Robinson said. “But on the other hand you don’t come here to place second. We’re disappointed that some things didn’t go our way.”

Hahn’s heart pounding victory in the finals was his third-straight match in the tournament that was decided on a takedown in the final 10 seconds.

“I guess I like dramatics,” an exhausted Hahn said after claiming his title. “I wish it wasn’t so close, but a win is a win. It’s a great feeling. I didn’t want Minnesota to go without a championship Ö though (Lewis and Lawrence) are both champions in my book.”

For the second year in a row, Lewis found his way into the 133 finals and again he was pitted with Cowboys grappler Johnny Thompson.

After Lewis breezed to the championship with three pins and a major decision, he dictated the match with Thompson but couldn’t get anything to go his way. Lewis was caught on two mistakes and Thompson took the 5-3 victory.

Following the match, Lewis threw an ugly glare toward the Oklahoma State corner and after cooling down in the locker room had some choice words.

“To push a kid around for seven minutes and lose is frustrating,” Lewis said. “I don’t think I lost to an opponent who deserved it. It’s hard to take a guy down who is constantly backing up.

“I flat out don’t like (Thompson). I don’t like the way he carries himself.”

Lawrence’s loss to Arizona State’s Eric Larkin at 149 wasn’t nearly as controversial.

The two, foes since high school, wrestled equally for most of the first period. But in the end, despite repeated attempts by Lawrence, Larkin refused to be taken down.

“The one thing I needed to control was finishing my moves,” Lawrence said. “He’s very good at that and I didn’t do it. It’s tough because I know I work harder than him. But he deserved it.”

The race is now on for next year and filling the large holes left by five weight classes. Some spots are secure such as Matt Nagel at 157 and Cole Konrad at heavyweight.

However, Robinson admitted he could do a little more than last summer on the recruiting trail.

“We’ll do what we can to stay at the top,” Robinson said.

And hopefully get back to bagging national championships.