KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Qualifying Group Tournament Results) Six defending national champions highlight a group of 160 grapplers that punched their ticket to the 57th annual NAIA Wrestling National Championship Saturday (Feb. 22) with a top-four finish at one of the four respective NAIA Qualifying Group Tournaments. Additionally, Grand View (Iowa), Indiana Tech, Morningside (Iowa) and Southern Oregon captured team titles.
Defending national champion Grand View cruised to a fourth-consecutive Central Qualifying Group Tournament team title, as all 12 Vikings automatically qualified for the national championships with top four finishes. Grand View wrestlers claimed individual group crowns in eight of the 10 weight classes, including titles by defending national champions Chad Lowman (165), Jimmie Schuessler (174) and Eric Thompson (285). Overall, the Vikings totaled 217 points.
Missouri Valley, fueled by eight automatics, finished second in the group with 150.0 points. All-American Josh Manu defended his 197-pound Central Group title with a 3-2 victory over Benedictine’s Stephen Loosbrock to highlight the Viking qualifers.
At the East Qualifier, Indiana Tech tallied 149.5 points, edging second-place Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) by 7.5 points – the closest margin of victory among the Qualifying Tournaments. The Warriors had Justin Brooks and Kafuba Donzon win individual titles. Brooks won the 133-pound crown with a pin of Lindsey Wilson’s Keaton Thomas, while Donzon claimed a 12-4 major decision win over Ream Cameron of Missouri Baptist at 165 pounds.
Defending national champion Jameel Bryant, who finished third at the East Qualifier last season, claimed the individual title at 184 pounds. Eziekiel Hunt of fourth-place Cumberland (Tenn.) was the lone grappler to defend his group championship from a year ago.
Morningside won the heavily contested North Group with 128.5 points. A total of two points separated the next three teams with Concordia (Neb.) taking second with 97.0 points, Northwestern (Iowa) third with 96.5 points and York (Neb.) fourth with 95.0 points.
Individually, eight different schools had wrestlers claim individual titles. Morningside – Tyler Lashbrook (149) and Joseph Sievert (184) – and Midland (Neb.) – Josh Heinzer (125) and Tyler McMichael (157) – were the only programs with multiple first-place finishes.
Defending national runner-up Southern Oregon won its fifth group title in the last six years with 147.0 points – 17.5 points more than 2013 group champion and second-place Great Falls (Mont.). Three Raiders won individual titles, including defending national champion Brock Gutches at 174 pounds. Gutches, who received a bye in the opening round as the group’s top seed, defeated Embry-Riddle’s (Ariz.) Jose Cruz, 10-3, in the semifinals before pinning Brady Beamon of Simpson (Calif.) en route to the title.
Montana State-Northern’s Ethan Hinebauch (165) and Scott Brasil (285) of Menlo (Calif.) were the only other 2013 West Group champions to repeat in 2014.
The complete list of national championships participants will be announced on Feb. 27.
The 2014 national championships will be held at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan., from March 7 – 8. NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video streaming company of 17 select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting the title bouts (Session IV) of the 2014 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, click here.