Dictus ranked nationally, Vikes face questions

Matthew Kruse

A young Lawrence wrestling team led by captains Ben Dictus, John Budi, and Joe Austin enters this season unranked and facing many questions with few answers. They’ve lost three starters from last year’s team, which ranked 27th in the nation at the end of the season. These include Ric Scannell and Nick Morphew, numbers four and five on the team’s all-time wins list, who graduated. An unplanned loss for the team was starting heavyweight Kenny Hamm, who is currently serving in Iraq.
Several starting spots are still up in the air. As many as three spots could be filled by wrestlers who didn’t compete last season. Noah Planavsky, returning from a year off due to injury, is seeking a starting spot at 141 pounds. Senior Robert Ryan hasn’t wrestled since high school. He’s anticipated to battle with sophomore Jimmy Lima for the starting spot at 157 pounds. Junior Rory Quinn is expected to be the team’s starting heavyweight. “Losing Kenny Hamm was a big loss,” said head coach David Novickis. “I’m hoping [Quinn] can come in and help the team.” Freshman Andrew Marino will also be attempting to take the starting spot at 174 pounds from Austin.
There are some bright spots for Lawrence this year. Dictus starts this year ranked fourth in the nation at 184 pounds. This is the highest ranking for a Lawrence wrestler since Andy Kazik was an undefeated national champion in 2002 at the same weight class. Along with Dictus, wrestlers to watch this year include Budi, Austin, Planavsky, and Ryan Dummann.
According to Novickis, the team’s goal for this season is to improve on their standings in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They ended last season ranked six out of seven teams in conference duel standings, but last at the conference tournament, falling just short of UW-Eau Claire. This will be the Vikings’ third season in the WIAC, one of the toughest conferences in NCAA Division III wrestling. Three teams (UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-Whitewater) are ranked in the top 25 in the current polls.
The Vikings open their season Nov. 17 at UW-Platteville.