by Steve Peterson
John Sievert, a Morningside College senior from Akron, finished his wrestling career as the NAIA 197-pound weight class national champion.
He not only reached the finals but emerged as an NAIA national champion, thrilling Morningside College followers Saturday evening and concluding a nine-year wrestling career that started his freshman year at Akron-Westfield Community School.
Sievert became the second wrestler in Mustang history to win a NAIA National Championship when he defeated Carl Lawrence of Missouri Valley College by a 3-1 decision in the 197-pound title bout Saturday evening at the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines.
Sievert joined Morningside Head Coach Jake Stevenson as a national champion. Stevenson won at 184 pounds as a sophomore in 2007.
Stevenson, the first Morningside wrestler to win a national championship, said Sievert was very determined going into the NAIA meet. “He came in very confident and his goal was what he ended up doing, to be a National Champion.”
Sievert closed out the season with a 19-match winning streak to finish with a record of 21-2.
Sievert took a 2-0 lead against Lawrence when he scored a take down 49 seconds left in the first period. Sievert made it 3-0 with an escape early in the second period. Lawrence closed within 3-1 when he escaped Sievert’s grasp early in the third period to finish the scoring.
Sievert finished his Morningside career with an 86-32 record and a school-record 44 falls.
Sievert, ranked seventh in the nation, earned his spot in the title bout when he upset Josh Manu of Missouri Valley College with a thrilling 8-7 win in the Saturday morning semifinals.
According to Hometowner Sports Correspondent Patti Ericson, Sievert didn’t even know he had won as the match went into four over times and came down to being decided by riding time.
In the finals, Sievert faced another Missouri Valley wrestler as sixth-seed Carl Lawrence earned his spot with a 3-1 upset win against second-ranked Derek Nightser of Grand View University, who was last year’s 197-pound national runner-up.
Sievert and Lawrence had some past history at the NAIA National Championships. Sievert pinned Lawrence in 6:13 when they met in last year’s opening round while competing as heavyweights. Lawrence had a 21-6 record and was runner-up.
“We knew what Lawrence liked to do and John was more aggressive. He almost had a takedown earlier in the first period and got one with 40 seconds to go. It was exciting to see the championship. It was nerve-wracking for me to be on the sideline and not be in it. I’m proud and happy for John. He’s a great kid,” said Stevenson.
Sievert won a 9-6 decision against 11th-ranked Kyle Soderblom of William Penn University in the quarterfinals.
This win followed a record-breaking performance in a second-round win against Eric Johnson of Calumet College. Sievert pinned Johnson in just 13 seconds for the fastest fall in Morningside’s wrestling history. Weston Frahm held the former Morningside record with a 15-second fall during the 2005-2006 season. It was the school-record 44th pin of Sievert’s Morningside career.
Sievert won Co-GPAC Wrestler of the Week honors for Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 as he was 2-0 record at the Briar Cliff University Open for the 197-pound title. He beat David Reck of Air Force Prep by a 2-0 decision in the title match. He also beat Ross Hoksbergen of Dakota Wesleyan University with a 22-7 technical fall and beat Bradlee Carls of York College, 10-7. He beat Aaron Ruskell of Northwestern College with a 12-2 major decision; and had fall times of 1:50 against Jared Bronaugh of Buena Vista University and 2:05 against Frank Ayala of Concordia University on Jan. 29 at Northwestern.
Morningside won its third straight GPAC wrestling championship with a 26-13 win against Briar Cliff University on Feb. 7.
At the NAIA North Region Qualifier tournament Feb. 16, Sievert won a 15-8 decision against Carls in the title bout. He also pinned Skyler Carroll of Dickinson State University in 2:36; won a 20-8 major decision against Jade Hoisington of Dakota Wesleyan University; and won by default against Morningside teammate Chris Bridgeford in the semifinals.
Sievert: A-W Pride
Sievert was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) Wrestler of the Year earlier. He was also named First Team All-GPAC.
So order the signs: Akron-Westfield: Home of NAIA National Champion Wrester John Sievert. We’re all proud.
Of note, A-W’s first individual state champion, Chris Utesch, is an assistant wrestling coach for the Mustangs. As a junior, he won the 125-pound Class A state title. He placed sixth as a freshman, fourth as a sophomore, and third as a senior and won 161 matches, to become the first four-time state tournament place winner in A-W history.
Also wrestling at the NAIA Wrestling Championship was Akron-Westfield alum Chad Morehead, a Morningside senior at 165 pounds, who was eliminated in the March 1 first round of consolation matches at the NAIA National Wrestling Championships.
Morehead opened the tournament with a 4-1 loss to Dallas Houchins of Grand View University and then lost to Zack Barkett of University of the Cumberlands by a 7-5 decision for an 0-2 record at the national tournament. Morehead was ranked 14th nationally in the latest poll. His final record was 25-12.
“Chad improved a lot in the last month. He lost his second match in overtime but that is the way it goes sometimes at nationals,” said Coach Jake Stevenson.