Flok, Sutter prepare for NCAA Tournament
Athletics - posted on 3/4/2009
Lakeland wrestlers Jonas Flok and Adam Sutter have taken different paths throughout their careers.
Ultimately, though, those paths have led to the same place - the NCAA Division III Wrestling National Championships. Flok and Sutter will represent Lakeland at nationals Friday and Saturday, March 6-7, at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Flok, a 157-pounder, and the 285-pound Sutter became the third and fourth wrestlers in Lakeland history to qualify for the national tournament. Flok finished second in his weight class at the Great Lakes Regional on Feb. 21 to automatically qualify for nationals, while Sutter took third in his bracket and received an at-large berth into the tournament.
"These two have high personal goals," Lakeland coach Pete Rogers said following the regional. "The next step is to be an All-American. I am just so happy for these guys right now."
To achieve All-American standing, a wrestler must finish in the top eight of his weight class by winning two or more individual matches.
After viewing the draws, which were released earlier this week, Rogers believes both Flok and Sutter have a great chance at attaining All-American status.
Flok, a senior from Egg Harbor, Wis., is 27-11 entering the tournament. Prior to the season, Rogers dubbed Flok "this
season's Paul Hartt," after Hartt qualified for the national tournament in 2008 at 197 pounds.
In 2008, Flok finished third in the regional, just missing out on qualifying for the national tournament after falling in the semifinals.
This season, Flok went one step further by defeating Matt Baarson of St. John's, the nation's No. 6 wrestler at 157 pounds, by fall in the semis. He just missed out on the championship after falling to top-seeded Jason Adams of Augsburg 13-4 in the finals.
Rogers praised Flok for his consistent approach, noting Flok's ability to get it done at "crunch time."
"Jonas stepped away last year, and had it in his mind that he wanted to do better," Rogers said. "He has the mental ability to beat people when it counts. He has a short memory, and the attitude where he can shake off a loss or a
big win. It doesn't matter to him if it's the worst guy or the best guy in the nation."
Flok, who leads the Muskies with 17 pins and 34 reversals, is excited for the opportunity to cap his four-year journey at nationals.
"It's good to finally advance to the post-season," Flok said. "My goal has been to be an All-American since my sophomore year, and so far it's been great. I just look back at all the work Pete has put us through, and I'm thankful now that I went through it."
The unseeded Flok is scheduled to face second-seeded Jason Brew (40-3) of Olivet in his first match. Back on Jan. 17 at the Al Hanke Invite in Elmhurst, Ill., Flok was defeated in a 13-4 major decision by Brew, the nation's No. 2 wrestler at 157 pounds.
After attending last season's national tournament as a spectator, Flok said he doesn't expect to see any surprises as a participant in this year's competition.
"I've seen most of the guys that are there," Flok said. "I've faced nearly all of them, so nothing will come as a shock. I feel very well-prepared for this tournament."
Sutter, a junior, was selected for one of six at-large berths available for the Great Lakes Region by the coaches following regional action.
The Gladstone, Mich., native is 29-7 entering the
tournament, is the Northern Wrestling Association champion and is ranked ninth in the country by D3wrestle.com.
"Sutter is a big, strong, talented guy who is blessed with some natural ability," Rogers said. "He is capable of doing whatever he wants to do. He's a great guy on our team and loves the sport."
After defeating four of the eight eventual All-Americans in the regular season, Sutter's 2007-08 campaign ended in disappointing fashion after finishing fifth in the regional tournament.
This year, Sutter has his sights set not only on becoming an All-American, but representing Lakeland College and the Great Lakes Region.
"There are three guys from our region, but I haven't seen a
lot of the guys from the East or the West," Sutter said. "There are some surprises in store, but for the most part, I just want to represent our region and our school, set the tone for when Lakeland gets a national qualifier in the future, and show people my wild card was deserved."
Sutter is second on the team with 16 pins and is tied for the team lead with 152.5 team points scored. He credits Rogers for putting together a tough regular season schedule, in which he regularly faces the best competition in the nation.
"It feels great, especially because it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride this year," Sutter said. "Pete puts together a tough schedule, and we face a lot of the top guys in the nation more than once. We wrestle in one of the tougher regionals, so I'm excited to see the kids from other regions."
Sutter, who is also unseeded, will take on MIT's Glenn Geesman, the bracket's fourth seed and the No. 5 wrestler in the nation. Sutter has never competed against Geesman.
Rogers, an Oostburg, Wis., native, has been the main catalyst behind the rise of the Lakeland wrestling program, which has been consistently ranked in the top 30 in the nation for the past two years.
He hopes the national tournament appearances by Flok and Sutter will encourage other members of the Lakeland squad to raise the bar for success a bit higher.
"I'd like to establish some tradition, and that [getting to nationals] becomes a normal thing for our younger guys," Rogers said. "They can then see where they need to improve to get to where our older guys get. That makes it a lot easier to get there, where winning becomes a habit."
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