Pacific senior Caleb Malychewski finishes third at 184 pounds at the west regional

Caleb Malychewski will end his Pacific career at the national meet, as the 184-pound senior qualified for the second straight time with his third-place finish to lead the Pacific men’s wrestling team at the NCAA Division III West Regional Championships, held at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minn.

Malychewski was one of four Pacific wrestlers to compete for a chance at the national meet. After losing a 7-5 sudden-death decision to Augsburg’s Tom Teigen in the semifinals, Malychewski rebounded to take a 4-1 decision from Austin Bellile of the Milwaukee School of Engineering before capturing the consolation final over Joshua Willaert of St. John’s (Minn.), 4-1. The three victories allowed Malychewski to improve to 29-6 overall.

The senior’s third-place finish led five placers for Pacific and allowed the team a seventh-place finish. The Boxers improved one spot over their 2013 finish, and their 53 points were 11.5 more than what they amassed last year.

Three other Pacific wrestlers also entered the consolation finals. Eric Harder advanced to the semifinals at 133 pounds, where he took a hard-fought 3-0 loss to eventual champion Chad Bartschenfeld of Augsburg. Harder wrestled back to the third-place final, taking a third-pound pin to Concordia Moorhead’s Jacoby Bergerson to finish the season at 27-9.

Ryan Baxter lost his opening match, 7-6, to Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Ryan Seidler in the 149-pound bracket, but rebounded to win three straight decisions to earn a place in the consolation final. He met Seidler once again, and the result proved the same in a 9-5 loss. Baxter finished the season at 22-12.

Bruce Balcita closed his Pacific career in heartbreaking fashion. He lost his opening match in an 8-6 sudden-death decision to eventual champion Justin Bowland of Augsburg, but rebounded to score pins over Trent Larson of Wisconsin-Platteville and Thomas Dahlke of Wisconsin-Oshkosh to earn a spot in the third-place match. A very close decision went the way of Concordia Moorhead’s Jake Krogstad, who scored a 7-6 victory. Balcita closed the season with a 22-13 record.

Jeremiah Baker proved the surprise of the tournament for the Boxers, going 2-3 to finish in sixth place at 141 pounds. After scoring a first round pin of Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Joe Pelkey, Baker also scored a 10-3 decision over the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Justin Wolfenden to advance to the consolation semifinals and eventually the fifth-place match.

Malychewski will now have two weeks to prepare for the NCAA Division III Championships. The meet will take place March 14-15 at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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