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McPherson-Native and UNK Wrestler, Eldredge Wins 174lb DII National Title

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By Grant Barrett, Ad Astra Radio

 

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA, – McPherson-native, Austin Eldredge is a red-shirt senior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and he was a four-year letterwinner at MHS, setting a new state record for technical falls (50) in a career, while claiming the 2017 Class 4A state title at 145 lbs. 

After spending two seasons at Cloud County C.C. (Concordia, Kan.). Eldredge continued to climb the ranks at the collegiate level, earning All-American Honors in his first two seasons at UNK, finishing fourth in back-to-back trips to the NCAA Division II Championships. Saturday, he returned to the NCAA Division II Championships looking to improve upon his fourth place finishes.

Eldredge came in as the third seed at 174-pounds, and recorded two 16-0 tech falls on Friday, to reach Saturday morning’s semifinals. He finishes with 14 tech falls, among the best totals in the NCAA.

The now three-time All-American, got off to a strong start in the semis against unseeded James Penfold, of Lake Erie (Ohio). Penfold had upset the second and seventh seeds, but Eldredge made sure there wouldn’t be a third surprise, as he managed 13 first period points and picked up escapes in each of the next two periods to win by major, 15-4.

Then came Abner Romero, of St. Cloud State (Minn.), who came in unblemished at 20-0, he was the 2021 National Champion for Lindenwood (Mo.) at 174 lbs. Romero had two falls and a 10-4 decision to reach the finals, where Eldredge came out on the attack and recorded an early takedown and built up over a minute of riding time. However, Romero countered with a reversal and erased the riding time. 

With the second period winding down a flurry of action featured an Eldredge reversal, two near fall points and a Romero reversal. A video review confirmed all six of those points. In the third, it was all Eldredge as he managed another takedown and a 4-point near fall. He finishes the year 28-4, and ups his Loper record to 70-13 and could be a rare seventh-year “Super Senior” in 2024 (COVID year, medical redshirt and regular redshirt). 

 “I’m just elated.” Eldredge told reporters following the match, “This is probably my last match, so I’m just happy to finish it in the best way possible, I’m just so grateful.”

“It’s a complete one-eighty from last year,” said Eldredge, as he talked about the nerves going into last year’s tournament as the favorite, to now putting up a ton of points and dominating his competition, he said, “It’s so awesome, I’m so happy.”

Eldredge mentioned his teammates, coaches, family, girlfriend, friends, who helped him out along the way, saying, “It’s just so awesome, and I’m so thankful for everyone in my life.”