By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
TOPEKA, Kan. – (Updated Bracket) Two-time defending national champion Grand View (Iowa) ended the first session of the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships leading the team standings with 32 points Friday afternoon at the Kansas Expocentre. The Vikings, who entered the event with a championship-high 12 qualifiers, had 11 individuals advance into the quarterfinals. Montana-State Northern is second with 25.5 points and five grapplers in the quarterfinals.
All six defending national champions continued their bid for a second-straight title with first and second round victories. Two-time national champions Brock Gutches (174) of Southern Oregon and Eric Thompson (285) of Grand View, who both received first round byes, pinned their second round opponents. Gutches took 2:42 to stick Jared Bass of Oklahoma City, while Thompson pinned Montana State-Northern’s Jorrell Jones in 46 seconds.
Defending national champion Jameel Bryant of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) avoided a second round upset to fellow All-American Parker Owen of Baker (Kan.) with a 6-5 decision.
With a pair of pins against Chauncey Foster of St. Andrews (N.C.) and Mason Sauseda of Simpson (Calif.), Grand View’s Ryak Finch – the top-ranked individual at 125 pounds entering the event – improved to 26-0 on the season. Finch is the only unbeaten wrestler in the field and is making his first-ever appearance at the national championship.
In arguably the most surprising upset in Session I, Southern Oregon’s Tyler Cowger upset All-American and third ranked Jake Ekster of Missouri Valley in overtime, 4-2. Cowger entered the championship ranked 12th at 149 pounds. With the loss, Ekster drops to 23-5 on the season and will face Kyle Terry of Campbellsville (Ky.).
Two-time All-American Cameron Neiss of Montana State-Northern picked up his 20th pin of the season with a fall at 141 pounds, which leads the NAIA, with a 6:32 stick of Jeremiah Lutz of Brewton-Parker (Ga.). Neiss faces defending national champion Gustavo Martinez of Grand View (Iowa) this evening in the quarterfinals.
Friday’s second session will get underway at 6:30 p.m. CST with the quarterfinals, followed by two round of consolation action. For live match-by-match scoring, click here.