Augustana wrestling is sending Jayd Docken and Nate Herda to the 2013 NCAA national championships.
Jayd Docken, a redshirt sophomore, will compete in his second national championships. After a 21-5 (13-2 NSIC) season record, Docken will continue his season at nationals Friday and Saturday, March 8 to 9 in Birmingham, Ala. He has competed well this year, placing first in three tournaments including one at North Dakota State University.
Docken is ranked fifth going into nationals at 197 lbs.
After experiencing the national wrestling stage last year, Docken has a different outlook for this year’s championships.
“It was definitely intimidating the first time around as a redshirt freshman,” Docken said. “This time I am confident in what I am capable of and know what to expect.”
Wrestling head coach Jason Reitmeier believes the two wrestlers have the experience to help them at nationals.
“None of them will be overwhelmed by the situation,” Reitmeier said.
Docken credits his drive to his coaches. He said assistant wrestling coach Tom Meester has worked with him beyond regularly scheduled practices in order to prepare for his dream of a national title.
“My biggest influence has been Reitmeier and Tom [Meester],” Docken said. “They have done so much for me and I just want to make it count and win a title for them.”
After an 86.67 percent success rate in his division, Docken begins his first round in the 197 weight class by facing Joseph Brandt (30-4) of Ashland University.
Senior Nate Herda, another national’s returner, faces his last chance for a national title. He is ranked sixth this year at 149 lbs.
“This year I will really have to be on my game. It is my last shot,” Herda said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
This is Herda’s fourth trip to the wrestling championships. Although he has yet to win, he placed third in 2011.
“My expectation is the same it has been for the last three years: to win a national title,” Herda said.
Herda, a redshirt senior, was Rookie of the Year for the division during the 2009-2010 season. His last year of collegiate wrestling is worthy of his 2010-2011 All-American honor with a division success percentage of 83.33 (27-6, 15-3 NSIC).
His practice to ready for nationals involves perfecting his wrestling technique.
“Not much can be done as far as getting into better shape,” Herda said. “It is just fixing a few holes and sharpening where we are good.”
Wrestling practices are meant to recreate their competition with multiple matches held a week.
“No runs or lifts right now,” Docken said. “We just focus on wrestling matches.”
Herda will face Raufeon Stots (26-4) of the University of Nebraska-Kearney in the first round. Stots won the 149 weight class at the 2012 championships.
Despite Stots’ record, Herda is looking forward to the match.
“He is very talented,” Herda said. “[My] coaches will have me prepared and I just have to execute and make it happen. That is what wrestling is all about.”
Sean Derry had also qualified for the NCAA Championships but had to withdraw due to an injury.
This year, the NCAA wrestling championships take place as part of the Division II Championships Festival Friday and Saturday in Birmingham, Ala. The festival also includes men and women’s indoor track and field and women’s swimming and diving.