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2013 NAIA Qualifying Group Tournament Preview

February 15, 2013
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By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The 2013 NAIA Qualifying Group Tournaments open action at four host sites across the country on Saturday. The top four finishers in each of the group's 10 respective weight classes receive an automatic berth to the 56th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, March 1-2. The official list of national championship qualifiers will be announced on Feb. 21.

At-Large selections to the national championship are decided at the conclusion of the national qualifying group tournaments by the participating coaches.

For more information on the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.

2013 NAIA Qualifying Group Tournament Notes
Central Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Baker (Kan.) | Baldwin City, Kan.
Track Wrestling Tournament Page | Live Video
• The Central Group has five teams currently ranked in the latest NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Top 20 Poll - No. 1 Grand View (Iowa), No. 7 Missouri Valley, No. 9 Oklahoma City, No. 14 Baker (Kan.) and No. 16 William Penn (Iowa).
• Last season, eventual national champion Grand View claimed the Group's top prize with 208.5 points. The Vikings had nine individuals automatically qualify, including five individual champions - Omi Acosta (133 pounds), Gustavo Martinez (141 pounds), TJ Moen (149 pounds), Brad Lower (165 pounds) and Eric Thompson (HWT).
• Grand View leads the NAIA with 139 pins - 20 more than second place Great Falls (Mont.) - this season, including a team-high 12 by Thompson and Walker Marshall.
• Three Central Group Wrestlers to Watch
     o Gustavo Martinez, Grand View (Iowa) (141 pounds) - Martinez has won 19-straight matches since falling to Thomas Mirocha of NCAA Division III Wartburg (Iowa) on Dec. 1 ... Top-ranked individual in latest NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Top 20 Poll ... Finished fifth at last year's national championships as a freshman ... Won last year's individual group crown at 141 pounds with a 2-1 decision over teammate Nick Coffman.
     o Derek Nightser, Grand View (Iowa) (197 pounds) - Top-ranked 197-pound wrestler in latest coaches' poll ... 6-0 record this season, including four victories against ranked wrestlers ... Highlight victory of the season was a 4-3 decision over second-ranked Charles Johnson of Southern Oregon on Jan. 12 ... Runner-up at last year's national championships.
     o Brandon Gebhardt, Baker (Kan.) (HWT) - Avenged national championship loss and claimed No. 1 ranking with 5-3 win over Thompson on Dec. 16 ... Won 14-straight matches ... 30-3 record this season - 12-0 in NAIA matches ... Runner-up at last year's national championships after falling to Eric Thompson of Grand View in the finals.

Central Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 5 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds - Kidd Gomez, Oklahoma City (No. 5)
133 pounds - Joao Vicente, William Penn (Iowa) (No. 3)
141 pounds - Gustavo Martinez, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 1)
149 pounds - Isaiah Tatum, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 3)
157 pounds - Quinten Haynes, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 2)
165 pounds - Jimmie Schuessler, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 2)
174 pounds - Thomas Moman, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 3)
184 pounds - Mitchell Eichenauer, Oklahoma City (No. 4)
197 pounds - Derek Nightser, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 1)
HWT - Brandon Gebhardt, Baker (Kan.) (No. 1)

East Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by St. Andrews (N.C.) | Laurinburg, N.C.
Track Wrestling Tournament Page
• The East Group has an NAIA-best six teams currently ranked in the latest NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Top 20 Poll - No. 4 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), No. 5 Campbellsville (Ky.), No. 11 Cumberland (Tenn.), No. 12 Missouri Baptist, No. 15 Indiana Tech and No. 19 Cumberlands (Ky.).
• Campbellsville is the East Group defending champion. Last season, the Tigers held a 66-point advantage (183.5-117.5) over second place Missouri Baptist. Campbellsville had 10 individuals earn an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championships, including six wrestlers win individual titles.
• The East Group led the quartet with 24 All-Americans at the 2012 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. Lindsey Wilson's Charlie Pingleton (157 pounds) was the only national champion from the group.
• Three Wrestlers to Watch
     o Conor Young, Campbellsville (Ky.) (157 pounds) - Ranked No. 1 for four-straight polls ... 21-4 overall record, including a 7-2 mark against NAIA opponents ... Currently riding a four-match winning streak ... Defending East Group champion at 157 pounds ... Finished fifth at the 2012 national championships.
     o Gabriel Roman, Missouri Baptist (125 pounds) - Ranked second nationally in 125-pound weight class ... runner-up at 2012 East Qualifying Group Tournament after falling to Larone Madison of Cumberlands (Ky.) in the finals ... 22-4 overall record (14-1 NAIA) ... Only loss against an NAIA opponent this season came against top-ranked Mitchell Lofstedt of Southern Oregon ... Recorded a technical fall (17-2) against third-ranked 125-pound Kory Kistner of Morningside (Iowa) on Jan. 12 ... Seventh-place finisher at 2012 NAIA National Championships.
     o Joseph Stephens, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (184 pounds) - Won four-straight matches, including an 8-2 decision over No. 5 Jesse Hellinger of Dickinson State (N.D.) on Jan. 12 ...Only loss this season was a 7-3 defeat against John Rizgallah of NCAA Division I Michigan State ... Earned All-America honors after finishing runner-up at 174 pounds in the 2012 NAIA Wrestling National Championships.

East Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 5 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds - Gabriel Roman, Missouri Baptist (No. 2)
133 pounds - Tyler Alsip, Campbellsville (Ky.) (No. 7)
141 pounds - Wismit Moinius, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (No. 3)
149 pounds - Steven Sandefer, Cumberland (Tenn.) (No. 4)
157 pounds - Conor Young, Campbellsville (Ky.) (No. 1)
165 pounds - James Bennett, Indiana Tech (No. 5)
174 pounds - Eziekiel Hunt, Cumberland (Tenn.) (No. 4)
184 pounds -Joseph Stephens, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (No. 2)
197 pounds - Allen Scruggs, Campbellsville (Ky.) (No. 3)
HWT - Michael Pezzuto, Cumberlands (Ky.) (No. 5)

North Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Midland (Neb.) | Fremont, Neb.
Track Wrestling Tournament Page | Live Video
• Similarly to the Central Group, the North Group boasts five top 20 teams - No. 8 Dickinson State (N.D.), No. 10 Morningside (Iowa), No. 13 Midland (Neb.), No. 17 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) and No. 19 Jamestown (N.D.).
• Dickinson State's 18 victories this season leads the NAIA. The Blue Hawks have won 10-straight with their last loss coming on Jan. 18 against Great Falls (Mont.), 22-19.
• Midland, who is hosting this year's North Qualifying Group Tournament, enters Saturday as the defending team champion. Last season, the Warriors had eight individuals finish in the top three, including individual titles by Jahsua Marsh (197 pounds) and Levi Roberson (Heavyweight). Marsh rode that momentum to an individual nation crown in his respective weight class.
• Three North Group Wrestlers to Watch
     o Kory Kistner, Morningside (Iowa) (125 pounds) - 6-1 on the season with only loss coming against second-ranked Gabriel Roman of Missouri Baptist ... Ranked third in latest national poll ... Finished runner-up to Southern Oregon's Mitchell Lofstedt at 2012 NAIA National Championships ... Defending group champion at 125 pounds.
     o Brad Steele, Dickinson State (N.D.) (141 pounds) - Won 10 of last 11 matches, including four victories by pinfall ... Defending group champion at 141 pounds ... 23-4 overall record this season (11-2 against NAIA opponents).
     o Jose Lopez, Dickinson State (N.D.) (HWT) - Seven-of-12 victories this season by pinfall ... 12-2 overall record ... Finished fifth at last year's national championships to earn All-American honors ... Runner-up at last year's group tournament .

North Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 5 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds - Kory Kistner, Morningside (Iowa) (No. 3)
133 pounds - Richard Rios, Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) (No. 5)
141 pounds - Brad Steele, Dickinson State (N.D.) (No. 5)
149 pounds - Cody Green, Midland (Neb.) (No. 8)
157 pounds - Trever Devestern, Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) (No. 6)
165 pounds - Sterling Terry, Midland (Neb.) (No. 9)
174 pounds - Rulin Pederson, Morningside (Iowa) (No. 7)
184 pounds - Jesse Hellinger, Dickinson State (N.D.) (No. 5)
197 pounds - John Sievert, Morningside (Iowa) (No. 7)
HWT - Jose Lopez, Dickinson State (N.D.) (No. 4)

West Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Great Falls (Mont.) | Great Falls, Mont.
Track Wrestling Tournament Page

• Four of the West's six programs are currently ranked in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Top 20 Poll - No. 2 Southern Oregon, No. 3 Great Falls (Mont.), No. 6 Montana State-Northern and No. 18 Menlo (Calif.).
• Despite having the smallest number of programs - six total teams - the West Group boasts more top-ranked individuals than any other group with six - Mitchell Lofstedt of Southern Oregon (125 pounds), Prescott Garner of Southern Oregon (133 pounds), Mike Vassar of Great Falls (Mont.) (149 pounds), Ethan Hinebauch of Montana State-Northern (165 pounds), Brock Gutches of Southern Oregon (174 pounds) and Kody Reed of Montana State-Northern (184 pounds).
• Southern Oregon enters Saturday in search of its fifth-consecutive West Qualifying Group Tournament title. Last season, the Raiders claimed 164 points and had four individuals earn titles in their respective weight classes -Lofstedt (125 pounds), Dalton Urrutia (157 pounds), Gutches (174 pounds) and Austin Vanderford (184 pounds).
• Three West Group Wrestlers to Watch
     o Mitchell Lofstedt, Southern Oregon (125 pounds) - Named NAIA National Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 23 and Feb. 6 ... Lofstedt has been ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds for 16-straight polls ... 27-1 overall record this season with only loss coming against Brenan Lyon of NCAA Division I Michigan State ... Boasts 16 pins ... Two-time national champion, including a pin in 1:06 against Kory Kistner of Morningside (Iowa) in last year's title bout ... Three-time NAIA All-American.
     o Myles Mazurkiewicz, Great Falls (Mont.) (141 pounds) - 32-3 overall record this season, including a 14-1 record against NAIA opponents ... Ranked No. 1 in 5-of-7 polls this season ... Three-time NAIA All-American ... finished sixth at the 2012 NAIA Wrestling National Championships ... Finished third at 2012 West Qualifying Group Tournament.
     o Brock Gutches, Southern Oregon (174 pounds) - 16-3 overall (8-1 NAIA) ... Had won 15-straight before falling to Jim Wilson of NCAA Division I Stanford, 2-0, on Feb. 2 ... Gutches has been ranked atop the 174-pound weight class in all seven polls this season ... Defending 174-pound national champion ... Won 174-pound weight class at last year's West Qualifying Group Tournament.

West Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 5 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds - Mitchell Lofstedt, Southern Oregon (No. 1)
133 pounds - Prescott Garner, Southern Oregon (No. 1)
141 pounds - Myles Mazurkiewicz, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 2)
149 pounds -Mike Vassar, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 1)
157 pounds - Ryan Leonard, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 3)
165 pounds - Ethan Hinebauch, Montana State-Northern (No. 1)
174 pounds - Brock Gutches, Southern Oregon (No. 1)
184 pounds - Kody Reed, Montana State-Northern (No. 1)
197 pounds - Charles Johnson, Southern Oregon (No. 2)
HWT - Sears Tiernan, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 3)

*Note - Statistics and records provided by NWCA Scorebook Stat Tracker. As of Feb. 14, 2013