Hellinger wins national title at 197 lbs
Jesse Hellinger took no prisoners in the NAIA Wrestling National Championship on Saturday (Mar. 8) as he was named the 197-pound weight class champion.
"Jesse was very focused and relaxed out there," Head Coach Thadd O'Donnell said after. "He was focused on the process. It's the best I have seen him wrestle in two years. He went up against some tough guys, ranked guys, and he was able to handle them. I'm proud of what he did."
Hellinger entered the Championship ranked No. 4 in the nation for wrestlers within the 197-pound weight class. He started off by facing Scott Stewart who entered Nationals as the No. 5 grappler in the East Group. Hellinger handed Stewart a loss in a 6-2 decision. Hellinger then squared off against Charles Johnson. Johnson was the No. 2 seed from the West Group. Hellinger took him down with a pin at 1:41. He moved into the semifinals to take on Josh Manu, who was the was the No. 1 seed from the Central. Hellinger pinned him at the 2:39 mark. In the finals he paired off with the No. 2 seed from Central Group, Stephen Loosbrock, and took him down in a tight 3-2 decision to earn All-American honors. Dickinson State finished No. 15 on the day with 29.5 team points.
"This was one of the tougher nationals I've been to," O'Donnell said. "We came in unranked and finished 15th. It says a lot about the program, the guys, and what we accomplished. It was a great experience for our younger guys to get out there and face some of the best competition in the country. Nationals are always a different level of competition. Now we begin the preparations for next year."