Jarrett Degen’s runner-up finish highlights 6 Montanans in Division I conference wrestling tournaments

Former Belgrade four-time state wrestling champion Jarrett Degen was this close to a Big 12 conference wrestling championship.

The Iowa State 149-pound wrestler finished runner-up at the 2019 Big 12 Championships, falling in a 6-5 decision against the conference’s top seed Kaden Gfeller of Oklahoma State over the weekend. Gfeller and the Cowboys won the conference team championship, while Degen and the Cyclones finished in second place.

Degen, a redshirt sophomore, took an early 2-0 lead in the conference title match, and entered the third period tied at 4-all. Degen’s escape gave him a 5-4 advantage, but Gfeller used a late takedown to secure the 6-5 decision.

Each wrestler will head to the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh, PA from March 21-23. Degen will make his second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, having made it to the round of 12 last season before falling in the blood round. He was Iowa State’s lone wrestler at the championships one year ago.

Degen was one of six Montana wrestlers competing in Division I conference championships over the weekend, with his younger brother, Sawyer, and former Forsyth four-time champion Luke Weber also competing in the Big 12 Championships for North Dakota State.

Weber claimed a sixth-place finish in the 157-pound bracket. After dropping a 13-8 semifinal decision against Oklahoma’s Justin Thomas, Weber fell to the consolation bracket against Air Force Academy’s Alex Mossing. A redshirt sophomore who transferred from Nebraska this season, Weber took a 1-0 lead entering the final period, but suffered a knee injury with 55 seconds remaining before falling in a 10-2 decision.

Weber lost a 7-5 tiebreaker-1 decision against Fresno State’s Jacob Wright in the fifth-place match.

Weber will await Wednesday’s NCAA Championships bracket reveal, as only one Big 12 wrestler was awarded an automatic bid to the national tournament — the league’s champion Chase Straw of Iowa State. The NCAA announced its qualifier allocations on Saturday, March 2, awarding conferences automatic bids by weight class based on three criteria — Division I winning percentage at the weight class, ratings percentage index (RPI) and coaches rankings.

For more information on the qualifier allocations, click here.

Weber was unranked in both the coaches poll and RPI.

His teammate, Sawyer Degen, lost in the 141-pound quarterfinals and ended his season in the consolation bracket after an 11-3 major decision.

Tucker Nadeau, a West Virginia freshman who captured a 182-pound championship for Kalispell Flathead in Feb. 2018, dropped his two matches at the Big 12 Championships, falling in a 16-1 technical fall in his opening match, then losing a 15-0 technical fall in the consolation bracket. It was the first competition for Nadeau in a West Virginia singlet, after the true freshman wrestled unattached at 165 pounds in several open tournaments this season.

Two former Montana standouts competed in the Pac-12 Championships on Saturday evening — former Circle star Rico Stormer and Charlo’s Jacen Petersen.

Stormer, a graduate student at Stanford, placed fourth in the league’s 174-pound weight class, dropping a 4-2 decision in the consolation match against Oregon State’s Colt Doyle. Petersen, an Arizona State redshirt senior, also finished fourth, his placing in the 184-pound bracket, after a 4-2 overtime defeat against Cal State University Bakersfield’s Dom Ducharme in the consolation match.

Neither Stormer nor Petersen is ranked in either the coaches poll or RPI.

Havre High four-time state champion Parker Filius, now at Purdue, competed in his first Big 10 Championship, going 0-2 in the 149-pound bracket. Filius fell in a 12-3 major decision in the opening round, then was pinned by Nebraska’s Jordan Shearer at 2:42.

Filius was a redshirt freshman for the Boilermakers this season.

Richie Melby

Richie Melby

A Hi-line native, Richie Melby enjoys telling the stories of Montana athletes, coaches and teams. Richie got his start in TV at KTVQ in Billings and worked as the Sports Director at KRTV. After a couple of years in Tucson, Ariz., Richie returned to his home state as the Sports Director at KTVH.
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