KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (Qualifying Group Tournament Central) One hundred and sixty wrestlers punched their ticket to the 56th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championships Saturday with a top-four finish in one of the four respective NAIA Qualifying Group Tournaments. Additionally, Grand View (Iowa), Dickinson State (N.D.), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Great Falls (Mont.) claimed team titles.
Six of Grand View's 11 top-four finishers claimed individual crowns, as the Vikings recorded 179.5 points to become the only 2012 team champion to earn the same recognition in 2013. Defending national champion and second-seeded Eric Thompson avenged an earlier season loss to Baker's Brandon Gebhardt with a pin in 32 seconds to earn his second-straight heavyweight group title. Other individual champions for the Vikings were Gustavo Martinez (141 pounds), Isaiah Tatum (149 pounds), Chad Lowman (157 pounds), Jordan Schuessler (165 pounds) and Thomas Moman (174 pounds). Missouri Valley finished second in the group with 149.0 points, while Oklahoma City took third with 118 points.
In the East Group, Lindsey Wilson, propelled by 10 top-four finishers, took top prize with 155.5 points - nine more than second-place and defending group champion Campbellsville's 146.5. The Blue Raiders had multiple individuals earn automatic berths in three weight classes - 165 pounds, 184 pounds and 197 pounds. Joseph Stephens at 184 pounds and 197-pounder Jacob Bradford took home individual championships for Lindsey Wilson. Campbellsville had the most title winners within the group with three - Brandon Westerman (141 pounds), Kyle Terry (149 pounds) and Conor Young (157 pounds). Cumberland (Tenn.) and Missouri Baptist finished tied for third in the group with 103.0 points.
Dickinson State racked up 153.5 points and had individual champions in six of the 10 possible weight classes en route to a North Group championship. Arguably the most impressive title run of the day came at 149 pounds, as 10th-seed Sean Elkins defeated the second, third and fifth seeded wrestlers en route to a championship. Midland (Neb.), the group's defending champion, had Jahsua Marsh claim his second career top group prize at 184 pounds. Last year, Marsh took first-place at 197 pounds. The Warriors took third overall in the group with 123.5 points, while Morningside (Iowa) claimed second-place with 137.0 points.
In the highly contested West Group, Great Falls tallied 141.5 points to dethrone Southern Oregon who had won four-straight group titles. The Raiders finished second with 133.0 points, while Montana State-Northern took third with 125.0 points. The Argonauts' Myles Mazurkiewicz (141 pounds) and Mike Vassar (149 pounds) took home individual championships. Southern Oregon's top-ranked Mitchell Lofstedt continued his dominance at 125 pounds, pinning his semifinals and finals opponents by a combined time of 5:20.
The official list of national championships participants will be announced on Feb. 21.
For the second-straight year, the national championships will be held at the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa, from March 1-2. NeuLion, the NAIA's official video streaming company of 12 selection 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.