MITCHELL, S.D. – A school record six members of the Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling team earned All-Great Plains Athletic Conference honors, it was announced by the league Tuesday afternoon. Last year, five wrestlers were honored, but the Tigers surpassed that mark this season.
Richard Rios and Kyle Gerlach earned All-GPAC First Team honors, Trever DeVestern and Dusty Paulsen were named to the second team and Tyler Sarringar and Eric Gruis earned honorable mention accolades. This is the second straight honor for DeVestern, Rios, Gerlach and Paulsen, who all earned all-conference honors in 2012.
The six wrestlers helped Dakota Wesleyan – which is ranked No. 17 in the NAIA – to a 7-5 overall record and a 4-2 mark and a third-place finish in the GPAC. That marks the most wins in a season since the 1968-69 season (12), and the first winning season for the Tiger wrestling program since the 1998-99 season when DWU went 5-2. This is also the first time the Tigers have had two wrestlers earn All-GPAC First Team honors.
Gerlach, a sophomore from Mount Vernon, S.D., leads the Tigers with 24 wins so far this season. The 157-pounder is 24-13, including a 3-2 record and a fourth-place finish at the North Qualifying Tournament this past weekend. He qualified for nationals for the second straight year, and is looking to earn All-American honors after finishing one win short at last year’s national tournament. Gerlach earned All-GPAC Second Team honors as a freshman.
This marks the second straight All-GPAC honor for Rios, who earned second team accolades as a sophomore last season. The 133-pound wrestler from Chino Hills, Calif., is 15-3 this season. He recently went 3-1 and took second at the qualifying tournament, and qualified for his third straight national tournament. Rios was one win away from earning All-American status at the 2012 NAIA National Championships.
DeVestern earned his second straight All-GPAC honor after going 18-7 so far this season. The sophomore 157-pound wrestler from Pearblossom, Calif., earned All-GPAC First Team honors as a freshman in 2012. DeVestern went 4-1 and took third at 157 pounds Saturday at the qualifying tournament. He qualified for nationals for the second straight season, and is looking for his first All-American honor after coming up one match short last season.
Paulsen earned second team honors as a sophomore after being named All-GPAC Honorable Mention as a freshman. The Pierre, S.D., native is 18-12 this season and took third at 149 pounds at the qualifying tournament this past weekend. Paulsen qualified for the national tournament for the second straight year in 2013.
This is the first All-GPAC honor for both Sarringar and Gruis. Gruis, a senior heavyweight from Baltic, S.D., is 12-11 this season after joining the Tiger wrestling team following the football season. He earned a wildcard bid to the national tournament after taking third at the qualifying meet, marking the third straight year he will compete at nationals.
Sarringar, a junior 174-pounder from Pierre, is 19-7 for Dakota Wesleyan this season. He took fourth at the qualifying meet and will wrestle in his third straight national tournament appearance in March.
The NAIA National Championships are March 1-2 in Des Moines, Iowa. All six All-GPAC wrestlers will compete along with junior 165-pounder Nick Hutcheson.