KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the qualifiers of the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships qualifiers on Thursday. The 56th annual event will take place March 1 - 2 at the Jacobson Exhibition Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The first of four sessions is set to get underway at 10 a.m. CST on March 1. Brackets will be posted Feb. 28 by 9 p.m. CST.
Among the 210 qualifiers are 33 returning All-Americans from the 2012 championships, including a quartet of defending national champions and seven runner-up finishers. Southern Oregon's Mitchell Lofstedt (125 pounds) highlights the group of individuals searching for a second-consecutive title. Lofstedt, the 2012 Gorriaran Award winner, enters 2013 vying for his third crown in four trips to the national championships. He has never finished lower than second-place in the event.
Rounding out the group of returning champions is Brock Gutches (174 pounds) of Southern Oregon, Midland's (Neb.) Jahsua Marsh (184 pounds) and Eric Thompson (heavyweight) of Grand View (Iowa). Marsh captured the 197-pound championship in 2012, but has slimmed down to 184 for 2013.
West Qualifying Group champion Great Falls (Mont.) brings the largest team to Des Moines with 12 individuals, led by top-ranked 149-pounder Mike Vassar and three-time All-American Myles Mazurkiewicz (141). Mazurkiewicz finished sixth at last year's national championships. Seven other programs had double-digit individuals qualify - Grand View (11), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (11), Missouri Valley (11), Southern Oregon (11), Campbellsville (Ky.) (10), Midland (10) and Morningside (Iowa) (10).
Each weight class will have at least one returning 2012 All-American in action, with the 125-pound event showcasing six All-Americans.
NeuLion, the NAIA's official video streaming company of 12 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the title bouts (Session IV) of the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. Packages can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.
For additional national championships information, including event schedule, tickets and DVD orders, click here.