Kasson-Mantorville's Bennett Berge has impressive run to All-America status

Mar. 23—KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To say Bennett Berge's run through his first NCAA Division I wrestling national tournament was impressive would be doing a disservice to Berge's effort and outcome.

The Kasson-Mantorville graduate and five-time Minnesota high school state champion left the T-Mobile Center here Saturday with a fourth-place medal around his neck and All-America honors on his resume.

Berge, a redshirt freshman at South Dakota State University, could have hung his head after a first-round loss on Thursday.

That's not the Berge way. That's not the K-M way. And it's not the SDSU way.

Instead of hanging his head, Berge put his head down and went back to work.

The 184-pounder, who was seeded No. 9 in the 33-wrestler bracket, rattled off six consecutive victories to earn a spot in the national third-place match against fourth-seeded Trey Munoz of Oregon State.

Munoz had reached the national semifinals, where he fell to top-seeded Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa by a 10-2 major decision. Munoz responded with a 5-1 decision over Bernie Truax of Penn State in a consolation match.

Munoz was then able to hold off Berge, by almost the slimmest of margins, 9-7, in the third-place bout.

Berge knocked off three wrestlers seeded above him en route a 6-2 record in the national championships and his fourth-place finish, the best of any Jackrabbits wrestler at this year's national tournament.

Berge beat eighth-seeded Sam Wolf of Air Force by an 11-0 major decision in the consolation first round. He also beat fifth-seeded Lenny Pinto from Nebraska in the fourth round of wrestlebacks by a 13-8 decision, then knocked off No. 2 seed Isaiah Salazar from Minnesota to reach the third-place match.

Berge finishes his redshirt freshman season with a 25-7 overall record.

—Fellow K-M alum Patrick Kennedy, a University of Iowa standout, went 3-2 at 174 pounds, coming up just one win shy of All-America status.

The 12th-seeded Kennedy dropped his opener on Thursday, then won three straight wrestlebacks before running into No. 1 seed Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech. Lewis edged Kennedy 8-4 late Friday night to end Kennedy's season with a 21-9 record.

—Former Albert Lea star Zach Glazier, a teammate of Kennedy's at Iowa, went 1-2 at 197 pounds. Glazier was the No. 7 seed in the tournament.

—Owatonna's Peyton Robb capped a storybook finish to his season with the University of Nebraska by placing seventh at 157 pounds and earning All-America status.

Robb, a senior at Nebraska, nearly lost one of his legs a year ago due to a severe bacterial infection. Instead, he battled back to go 24-8 this season and defeat Iowa's Jared Franek, the No. 10 seed, in the national seventh-place match for his third consecutive podium finish at the NCAA championships.