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Moenkedick wins national title

Perham natives and Concordia wrestlers, (L to R) Phil Moenkedick and Justin Berns, competed at the NCAA Division III national championship bringing home 1st and 7th finishes.

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Perham native and Concordia College junior, Phil Moenkedick, became the first Cobber wrestler to win a national title in three decades on Saturday, March 6 at the NCAA Division III national tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Moenkedick earned a 7-4 decision against Brennan Ward of Johnson and Wales to win the 184-pound title.

"It's unreal," said Moenkedick, who was a national runner-up last season. "Like through high school and stuff never winning, getting second in state. I don't know how to describe it right now. I'm just trying to enjoy it with my teammates."

The Cobbers hadn't won an individual national championship since Barry Bennett in 1979.

"It's a big step for our program at this point of our development to show kids that we can develop national champions at Concordia," Cobbers coach Clay Nagel said.

Moenkedick had a 4-0 lead heading into the third period, but got dumped to his back early in the period and had to stave off a pinning combination.

"Phil kept his composure and didn't give him anything to control him with," Nagel said.

Moenkedick countered with a key reversal en route to the three-point victory and national crown.

Fellow Perham native, junior Justin Berns, finished seventh at 149.

"It was a lot of fun. Good competition and that's what you work for," Berns said. "It was really cool to be a part of it."

Concordia finished the tournament with a school record three All-Americans and posted their highest team finish in school history.

"It's elation to see your athletes that you have pleasure of working with to be successful and win a national championship," Nagel said. "It's fun to be a part of it."

Moenkedick and Berns advanced to the national tournament after strong showings at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Meet in Minneapolis, MN on Feb. 20. Moenkedick was a perfect 4-0 as he captured his third straight regional championship.