Photos and story courtesy of Don Stoner, Augsburg College
Augsburg College wrestler Zach Molitor (2005 Cambridge-Isanti grad) won the NCAA Division III national championship at 174 pounds, part of Augsburg’s second-place national team finish at the championships, held at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wis., on Friday and Saturday.
On Saturday, Molitor closed his collegiate career with a dramatic pin of Wartburg’s Bradley Banks in the national title match – the lone pin among the 10 national-championship matches. Leading 4-1 after one period, Molitor fought off a Banks escape attempt, pushing Banks to his back for the match-ending pin in 3:20. The pin was Molitor’s second in his four victories at the national tournament.
A three-time All-American, Molitor reached the finals with a 4-1 win over defending national champion Michael Schmitz of Wisconsin-La Crosse in the semifinals – his first win in three matches against Schmitz this season. Molitor scored a takedown with 1:38 left in the first period and opened the second period with an escape, while building 1:40 of riding time to score the win.
On Friday, Molitor opened his tournament run with two bonus-point victories — a 4:28 pin of Stephan Birt of Loras (Iowa) and a 12-1, major-decision win over Frank Savegnago of Elmhurst (Ill.).
Molitor finished his senior season at 29-3 and 92-17 in his three seasons at Augsburg. He finished sixth nationally in 2009 and third in 2010. Including his initial collegiate season at North Dakota State in 2005-06, Molitor finished 110-30 in his collegiate career.
As a team, Augsburg finished second in the national championships with an individual national titlist, three runners-up and five All-Americans, finishing among the top four teams nationally for the 23rd straight season.
Augsburg, winners of 11 national titles in the last 21 seasons, finished second for the 10th time in school history (nine in Division III, once in NAIA). Augsburg has finished among the top four teams nationally in Division III competition every year since 1989 and in the top 20 nationally every year since 1971.