UMary heavyweight eighth in second national appearance

Photo courtesy UMary Athletics Communications
Luke Tweeton, left, and teammate Reece Barnhardt both returned to Bismarck as All-American wrestlers following top eight finishes at the NCAA Division II Championships.

By Chris Cody

UMary Athletics Communications

Reece Barnhardt became the first University of Mary wrestler to become a three-time NCAA All-American, taking fourth place at 133 pounds at the 2024 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships. Luke Tweeton earned All-American status for the first time in his career as he finished 8th at 285 pounds.

Tweeton (285) dropped his first match of the tournament by a 4-1 decision to Notre Dame’s (Ohio) La’Ron Parks due to a last-second takedown. The Frazee native won his consolation matchup by a 13-4 major decision over Glenville State’s Gavin Shamblin. Tweeton received All-American honors after he defeated No. 8 seed Taniela Feliciano-Takafua (Simon Fraser) by a 4-2 decision.

Tweeton fell in his first match on Saturday to No. 5 seed Nebraska-Kearney’s Crew Howard and lost in his seventh-place match to Maryville’s Ryan Herman by a 4-2 decision as Tweeton was unable to secure a late takedown.

Barnhardt’s 4th place finish equals his best finish at nationals when he finished 4th as a freshman in 2021. Last year, the All-American finished in seventh place at 133 pounds. Last season, Tweeton qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time and went 0-2.

Barnhardt opened in the semifinals against undefeated No. 1 seeded Gabe Hixenbaugh of the University of Montevallo. The three-time All-American wrestled an incredible match that ended in heartbreaking fashion when Hixenbaugh landed a last-second takedown to defeat Barnhardt 9-7.

The Bismarck, N.D., native showed great heart coming back and defeating No. 7-seeded Elijah Lusk (Lander University) by a 2-1 decision. In his third-place match, Barnhardt attempted a late rally but ultimately came up short, losing a 9-4 decision to Millersville’s Devin Flannery.

Overall, the Marauders earned 18.5 team points, which placed UMary in 24th place.