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Leaving Behind A Legacy


Senior Mitch Hagen consults with his coach during the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championship, during which he earned All-American honors and clenched fifth place. | Courtesy of Caleb Williams

Senior wrestler Mitch Hagen ended his impressive collegiate career on a fitting note as he earned All-American honors at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships this past weekend.

Hagen began Saturday, the second day of competition, by defeating Daniel Olsen of Wheaton College in a 9-1 decision. He then wrestled several more matches throughout the day to find himself in the fifth place match against ninth-ranked Colin Lenhardt of Johnson and Wales University. Hagen made quick work of Lenhardt, pinning him in just 34 seconds to earn fifth place nationally at 184 pounds.

“Mitch is a great young man and true leader,” junior wrestler Paul Plombon said. “I have watched him since we were young in high school and to watch him through college has been a treat. I know he planned on winning the whole tourny, but fifth in the nation is nothing to hang your head about. He was still smiling that big smile he always has on his face after his 30 second pin to finish his career. The six national qualifiers that we had are a true testament of hard work and dedication.”

This was Hagen’s second appearance in the national tournament, last season he exited the tournament early after two consecutive losses. This year he found much more success, entering the tournament as the fourth seed and going 4-2 in his matches to earn the All-American title. Hagen finished his senior season with a 20-6 record, improving his career record to an impressive 72-35.

While achieving all of these records on the mat, Hagen was equally impressive in the classroom. He is a pre-med student who currently holds a 3.51 GPA. This GPA earned him his second All-American Scholar award, which he won last season as well. This award is given to wrestlers who placed in the top six at the NCAA Regional and hold a GPA of 3.2 or better. Hagen’s teammate, sophomore Ryan Michaelis, earned this honor as well with a 3.63 GPA.

While all of these individual records are impressive, Hagen also guided his team to a No. 18 finish out of 64 teams at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships this past weekend. St. John’s finished the tournament with 19.5 points, two points short of ending the day in a three-way tie for 13th. Wartburg College of Iowa went on to win the National Championship, their third consecutive title, with a total of 103 points.

Aside from Hagen, five other wrestlers qualified for the national tournament, including senior Chris Stevermer who ended his season with a 19-8 record. The four others were juniors Ryan Arne, John Scepaniak, Nick Schuler and sophomore Ryan Michaelis.

Out of these six national qualifiers, Hagen was the only wrestler to finish in the top eight, which earned him his All-American honor. This continues the Johnnies’ streak of eight consecutive seasons with an All-American wrestler. His scholar award, along with Michaelis’s, also gives the team their tenth Scholar All-American within the past five seasons, a statistic that signifies the program’s emphasis on both athletics and academics.

While the national tournament may have signified the end of Hagen’s wrestling career at St. John’s, his work ethic and success in the classroom are sure to lead to success for him outside of the wrestling world.

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