By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communication and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Qualifiers by Weight Class | Qualifiers by School) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially released the qualifiers for the 2015 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, presented by Blue Chip Wrestling, the national office announced Monday. The 58th annual event will take place March 6 – 7 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan. The first of four sessions is set to start at 10 a.m. CST on Friday, March 6.
For the second-consecutive season, six defending national champions – Ryak Finch (125) of Grand View (Iowa), Bryce Shoemaker (133) of Baker (Kan.), Brandon Wright (141) of Grand View, Jake Williams (149) of Cumberland (Tenn.), Joe Cozart (157) of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and Brock Gutches (174) of Southern Oregon – headline the field of 211 qualifiers.
The NAIA’s National Administrative Council Executive Committee voted to expand the field by one individual, for one-year, following an appeal from the NAIA-Wrestling Coaches Association.
Grand View enters the championship searching for a fourth-straight national title. If the Vikings claim the banner, they will join former member Central State (Okla.) (1984 – 1987) to win four in-a-row. Grand View won the Central Qualifier for the fifth-consecutive season with 218 points – 93 points more than second-place Missouri Valley. The Vikings bring one of the largest teams to Topeka with 12 individuals.
Four other programs had double-digit individuals qualify – Concordia (Neb.) (10), Great Falls (Mont.) (12), Lindsey Wilson (10) and Southern Oregon (11).
Each weight class will have at least one returning All-American in action, with the 157-pound event showcasing seven All-Americans, including defending national champion Cozart and runner-up Dallas Houchins of Grand View.
Stretch Internet, the NAIA’s official video streaming company, will be broadcasting the 10 title bouts (Session IV) of the 2015 NAIA Wrestling National Championships on March 7 on www.NAIANetwork.com. Packages can be purchased for $10.
For additional information on the 2015 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.