By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
TOPEKA, Kan. – (Team Scoring | Bracket) Fueled by six grapplers that won their semifinal bout, two-time defending national champion Grand View (Iowa) extended its advantage to 91 points in the team standings Saturday morning in Session III action of the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. The Vikings boast 175.5 points, while Great Falls (Mont.) rests in second-place with 84.5 points. Montana State-Northern with 83.5 points, Southern Oregon with 76.5 points and Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) with 76.5 points round out the top five.
In championship bracket semifinal action, four wrestlers punched their ticket into the finals for at least the second-straight year, highlighted by two-time defending national champions Brock Gutches (174) of Southern Oregon and Eric Thompson (285) of Grand View.
Lindsey Wilson’s Joe Cozart (157) and Jesse Hellinger (197) of Dickinson State (N.D.) return to the championship match for the second-straight season after finishing runner-up a year ago.
Twelve teams will be represented in the finals with four sending multiple wrestlers. Outside of Grand View’s aforementioned six grapplers, Cumberland (Tenn.), Lindsey Wilson and Montana State-Northern each send a pair. Of the 12 programs, Baker (Kan.), Bethany (Kan.), Benedictine (Kan.) and Indiana Tech each have an opportunity to crown its first-ever national champion.
At 285 pounds, Thompson ran his pin total to 19 on the season with a 3:54 stick of Menlo’s (Calif.) Scott Brasil, who he also met in the semifinals last season. With the win, the senior owns a 13-0 record and 10 career pins in three trips to the national championships.
A pair of defending national champions in Gutches and Jimmie Schuessler of Grand View took to the mat in the semifinals of the 174-pound weight class. Gutches, who has been dominant throughout his career at the national championships, wasted no time against Schuessler, pinning the defending 165-pound champion two minutes into the first period. The victory by fall is the seventh all-time for Gutches at the event.
All-American Ethan Hinebauch of Montana State-Northern improved to 41-2 on the year after Hannibal-LaGrange’s (Mo.) Bryce Alexander was unable to compete in the semifinals due to injury. With the victory, the Harve, Mont., native will have his first-ever opportunity to compete for a national title. He finished third in the 2013 national championships after falling to eventual runner-up Eric Lopez of Menlo.
A pair of grapplers became three-time All-Americans with third-place finishes – Schuessler and Cameron Neiss of Montana State-Northern. Additionally, 19 wrestlers received a second career All-America honor with a top eight finish.
For live match-by-match results, click here.
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 on March 8. Packages can be purchased for $9.95. For more information, click here.
For additional national championships information, click here.