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Lakeland College senior Paul Hartt became the second wrestler in the school's history to earn a trip to nationals Saturday, winning the 197-pound title at the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional in Collegeville, Minn.
Hartt, the regional's No. 1 seed and the No. 3 rated wrestler nationally at 197, scored a 14-4 major decision over Elmhurst's Bernie Vazquez in his opening match, pinned James Dooley of Chicago in 2:55 in the quarterfinals, pinned No. 5 seed Vincent Sapienza of North Central in 1:25 in the semifinals and scored an 8-2 win over second-seeded Anthony Neumann of Concordia-Moorehead in the championship.
Hartt advances to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships set for March 7-8 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The first- and second-place finishers in each weight class advance to the national meet, along with three at-large selections chosen by the regional coaches at the meet's conclusion.
"I see it as a sense of relief," Hartt said. "It's not this weekend but next weekend (nationals) that really matters. My goal all season has been to finish as an all-American. This is the first step in getting there.
"I approached every match today as if it was my last match. If I had not wrestled the way I did today, I would be done. It just worked out well."
Lakeland head coach Pete Rogers said Hartt appears to have all his abilities peaking at the right time.
"I'm so excited for Paul because he wrestled phenomenal," Rogers said. "He looked like a national-caliber wrestler today, and that was exciting to see. This tournament he wrestled better than he has all year. Those were some good guys he wrestled, and they didn't stay in the match, which was good to see. He didn't just beat them, he beat them bad."
Lakeland's only other national qualifier came in 2002 when Lee Kadinger placed sixth at 165 pounds.
For complete Lakeland results check the wrestling schedule page.