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2014_WR_Group Qualifiers_623

2014 NAIA Qualifying Group Tournament Preview

February 21, 2014
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By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Group Qualifier Schedule/Results) The 2014 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 57th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championships in Topeka, Kan., March 7 – 8. The official list of national championship qualifiers will be announced on Feb. 27.

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

For more information on the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.

2014 NAIA Qualifying Group Tournament Notes
Central Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Missouri Valley | Marshall, Mo.
Trackwrestling Tournament Page
• The Central Group has five teams currently ranked in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll, headlined by top-ranked Grand View (Iowa). The two-time defending national champion Vikings have ranked atop the Coaches’ Poll in 14-straight editions, which is the most since Notre Dame (Ohio) ranked No. 1 14-consecutive times from Nov. 24, 2009 to Feb. 22, 2011.
• Other ranked teams in the Central Group include No. 3 Missouri Valley, No. 15 Bethany (Kan.), No. 16 Oklahoma City and No. 18 Baker (Kan.).
• Last season, Grand View won the qualifier’s team title with 179.5 points. The Vikings had 11 of their 12 entries earn automatic berths into the national championships field with top-four finishes, including individual titles by Gustavo Martinez at 141, Isaiah Tatum at 149, Chad Lowman at 157, Jimmie Schuessler at 165, Thomas Moman at 174 and Erich Thompson at 285.
• Four individuals enter the group qualifier ranked atop their respective weight class – Ryak Finch (125) of Grand View, Martinez (141), Jake Ekster (149) of Missouri Valley and Thompson (285).
• Grand View leads all divisions with 186 total pins – 21 more than second-place NCAA Division III Luther (Iowa) – this season. The Vikings, who also lead the nation with 629 individual victories, ended the year with a 17-1 record in duals. Grand View’s only loss came to NCAA Division I Iowa State, 22-18, on Nov. 7.

Central Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 11 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds – Ryak Finch, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 1)
133 pounds – Brandon Benvenuti, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 4)
141 pounds – Gustavo Martinez, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 1)
149 pounds – Jake Ekster, Missouri Valley (No. 1)
157 pounds – Quinten Haynes, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 2)
165 pounds – Chad Lowman, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 3)
174 pounds – Jimmie Schuessler, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 2)
184 pounds – Christian Mays, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 4)
197 pounds – Josh Manu, Missouri Valley (No. 3)
285 pounds – Eric Thompson, Grand View (Iowa) (No. 1)

East Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Life (Ga.) | Marietta, Ga.
Trackwrestling Tournament Page
• The East Group has five teams currently ranked in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll – No. 2 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), No. 5 Campbellsville (Ky.), No. 8 Indiana Tech, No. 9 Cumberland (Tenn.) and No. 14 Cumberlands (Ky.).
• Lindsey Wilson enters the event looking to claim its second-straight group crown. Last year, the Blue Raiders, propelled by 11 top-four finishers, accrued 155.5 points en route to the title. Joseph Stephens at 184 pounds and Jacob Bradford at 197 pounds claimed individual titles for Lindsey Wilson at the event.
• Teammates Joe Cozart (157) and Jameel Bryant (184) of Lindsey Wilson enter Saturday ranked atop their respective weight class. Both Cozart and Bryant have been individually ranked No. 1 in every poll this season. Bryant is the defending national champion at 184 pounds, while Cozart finished second to Grand View’s (Iowa) Chad Lowman at 157 pounds in last year’s national championships.
• Campbellsville leads all divisions with 24 team wins this season, while Indiana Tech is tied for fifth – second among NAIA programs – with 19. Indiana Tech is also fifth in the NAIA in individual wins with 328.

East Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 11 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds – Cody Steiner, Campbellsville (Ky.) (No. 3)
133 pounds – Justin Brooks, Indiana Tech (No. 3)
141 pounds – Brandon Westerman, Campbellsville (Ky.) (No. 2)
149 pounds – Jake Williams, Cumberland (Tenn.) (No. 3)
157 pounds – Joe Cozart, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (No. 1)
165 pounds – James Bennett, Indiana Tech (No. 4)
174 pounds – Eziekiel Hunt, Cumberland (Tenn.) (No. 6)
184 pounds – Jameel Bryant, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (No. 1)
197 pounds – Samuel Johnson, Cumberlands (Ky.) (No. 6)
285 pounds – Courtney Freeman, Cumberlands (Ky.) (No. 4)

North Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) | Mitchell, S.D.
Trackwrestling Tournament Page
• The North Group has five teams currently ranked in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll – No. 10 Morningside (Iowa), No. 11 York (Neb.), No. 16 Dickinson State (N.D.), No. 19 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) and No. 19 Midland (Neb.).
• Last season, Dickinson State had six individual weight class winners – Bryden Lazaro (125), Brad Steele (141), Sean Elkins (149), Tyler Johnson (157), Cameron Schrempp (174) and Jose Lopez (285) – propelling the Blue Hawks to 153.5 points and the North Qualifier team title.
• The North Qualifying Group is the only one of the four to not have a No. 1 ranked individual nationally.
• Morningside, who secured a fourth-straight outright Great Plains Athletic Conference title with a 27-13 win against Midland on Feb. 14, enters Saturday as arguably the favorite to win the team title. The Mustangs boast eight nationally ranked grapplers, including three top five individuals in Tyler Lashbrook (149), Joseph Sievert (174) and Tyler Kacmarynski (285). Morningside finished the 2013-14 campaign with a 12-6 record.

North Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 11 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds – Oscar Marin, York (Neb.) (No. 9)
133 pounds – Robert Rivera, Concordia (Neb.) (No. 8)
141 pounds – Jason Arreola, York (Neb.) (No. 5)
149 pounds – Tyler Lashbrook, Morningside (Iowa) (No. 5)
157 pounds – Tyler Johnson, Dickinson State (N.D.) (No. 5)
165 pounds – Sterling Terry, Midland (Neb.) (No. 5)
174 pounds – Joseph Sievert, Morningside (Iowa) (No. 4)
184 pounds – Lane Oversen, Dickinson State (N.D.) (No. 7)
197 pounds – Jesse Hellinger, Dickinson State (N.D.) (No. 4)
285 pounds – Saia Lotulelei, York (Neb.) (No. 3)

West Qualifying Group Tournament
Hosted by Menlo (Calif.) | Atherton, Calif.
Live Video (Provided by Menlo) | Trackwrestling Tournament Page
• The West Group has five teams currently ranked in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Top 20 Poll – No. 4 Great Falls (Mont.), No. 6 Montana State-Northern, No. 7 Southern Oregon, No. 12 Menlo (Calif.) and No. 13 Simpson (Calif.).
• Montana State-Northern and Great Falls have been ranked among the top six nationally in every poll this season.
• Great Falls is the reigning West Qualifying Group Tournament champion after claiming 141.5 points a year ago. The Argonauts had 11 individuals automatically qualify for the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships with top four finishes, including individual crowns by Myles Mazurkiewicz at 141 pounds and Mike Vassar at 149 pounds.
• The West Group boasts three No. 1 individuals – A.J. Valles (133) of Simpson, Eric Lopez (165) of Menlo and Brock Gutches (174) of Southern Oregon. Gutches, who along with Lopez has been ranked No. 1 in every poll this season, is the group’s only defending national champion. Lopez was a national runner-up in 2013, while Valles did not compete at the national championships.
• Great Falls finished the dual season fourth in the NAIA with 15 victories, while Montana State-Northern was sixth with 12.

West Group Top-Ranked Individuals
(As of Feb. 11 group poll; national ranking in parenthesis)
125 pounds – Danny Luttrell, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 2)
133 pounds – A.J. Valles, Simpson (Calif.) (No. 1)
141 pounds – Kyle Wilson, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 6)
149 pounds – Ryan Martin, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 6)
157 pounds – Edward Cheff, Montana State-Northern (No. 4)
165 pounds – Eric Lopez, Menlo (Calif.) (No. 1)
174 pounds – Brock Gutches, Southern Oregon (No. 1)
184 pounds – Kamron Jackson, Great Falls (Mont.) (No. 3)
197 pounds – Toby Cheff, Montana State-Northern (No. 1)
285 pounds – Scott Brasil, Menlo (Calif.) (No. 7)

*Note – Statistics and records provided by NWCA Scorebook Stat Tracker. As of Feb. 21, 2014

Championship Information

NAIA Wrestling Championship
Sports Rules - Wrestling