Senior wrestlers Jon Schmidt and Austin Bautista earned All-American honors last weekend at the NCAA Division III national tournament.
Schmidt placed fifth in the heavyweight division, while Bautista took eighth place in the 141-pound division, earning All-American honors for the third time.
Schmidt started the tournament with a bang, taking out the undefeated No. 1-ranked Mark Corsello of Elmhurst College, 3-1, in overtime. Schmidt kept the momentum going in the second round, posting a 7-2 victory over No. 8 seed, Andrew Witzel, of Augsburg College.
However, Schmidt, one win away from the national title match, dropped two straight matches, but then pinned Luther College’s Allyn Plattner to capture fifth.
“My experience at the national tournament was exceptional,” Schmidt said. “I had a lot of fun, and that is what it’s really all about. I felt like the crowd was behind me every time, which gave me a huge confidence boost.”
Having posted a 14-7 record and earning All-American status, Schmidt is happy with how his season unfolded.
“My wrestling career at Whitewater has been like a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs,” Schmidt said. “I am very pleased to have ended it on such a positive moment.”
Bautista, however, had a difficult day.
“I’m pretty disappointed with my finish,” Bautista said.
Bautista lost in the second round, derailing his national championship hopes. Bautista won his first match in the loser’s bracket, 4-3, but then was defeated in his next two matches, ending his wrestling career at UW-Whitewater.
For Bautista, who is first on the school win list with 135 victories, said the tournament was bittersweet.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” Bautista said. “When you worked so hard for something and don’t achieve it, it hurts, but life goes on.
The number of wins isn’t what I want people to remember me by. I hope it’s the special memories I have shared with my [team] because they are worth more than any medal or bracket I have won.”