March 03, 2012
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Ten different programs will be represented in championship bouts, including five with multiple finalists: Grand View (4), Southern Oregon (4), Lindsey Wilson (3), Campbellsville (2) and Oklahoma City (2). Lindsey Wilson’s trio of national title hopefuls are the first in the program’s three-year history. Keith Klink was the first Blue Raider to advance into the finals at 133 pounds for head coach Corey Ruff.
“I’ve been coaching [Keith] Klink since he was in seventh grade and I’ve coached him at four different levels,” Ruff said. “I have never been prouder than anything in my life. To have three in the finals at this stage and two in the consolations, I’m very happy. It has been a lot of hard work and we’ve faced a lot of adversity this season. I’m so thankful of everybody, the wrestlers, the coaching staff, the administration, the parents; it has been a collective effort.”
Charlie Pingleton (157) and Joseph Stephens (174) will also wrestle for a national title for Lindsey Wilson. Oklahoma City’s finalists include Nik Turner at 157 pounds and Kevin Hardy at 165.
Of the four returning national champions that started the tournament, a pair will be vying for a second title: Mitchell Lofstedt of Southern Oregon at 125 pounds and Great Falls’ 141-pounder Anthony Varnell.
Lofstedt continued his pinning ways with a 2:39 fall of Deteoreious Prayther from Missouri Baptist to punch a ticket to his third finals appearance in as many trips to the event. It was also the junior’s ninth pin in his current 10-match winning streak. He is set to collide with first-time finalist Kory Kistner of Morningside (Iowa), who posted a 5-2 semifinal win over Great Falls’ Danny Luttrell.
Varnell had to get past teammate Myles Mazurkiewicz in order to defend his title and did so with a 7-3 decision. The 28-3 senior’s final opponent of his career will be sophomore Chris Teague of Campbellsville. Teague defeated Montana State-Northern’s Anthony Weerheim by a single point, 9-8, for his first shot at a national crown.
Campbellsville will have a second finalist in Allen Scruggs at 184. After beating the defending national champion with three seconds of riding time in the second tiebreaker in the quarterfinals, Scruggs once again emerged victorious in an extended match. Deadlocked at 1-1 with Derrick Rottenberg of Southern Oregon, the Tiger was able to take a 5-3 lead with a reversal, followed by an escape by the 2010 semifinalst, in the second tiebreaker en route to a 5-4 decision.
“I decided I can’t just hang my head on the quarterfinals win because anything can happen in the semifinal,” Scruggs said. “I went back to the hotel room, sat down and just cleared my head. I’m just taking it one match at a time. That’s all I can do, take it one match at a time and keep on driving to my goal, and my goal is become a national champ. I’m a first-time All-American and I’m in the national finals. It feels great.”
He will face off against another Southern Oregon grappler, Austin Vanderford, in the title bout. Vanderford edged Weston Keleher of Missouri Baptist, 5-4.
Action from the 55th annual event continues Saturday at 10 a.m. CST with consolation semifinals, followed by medal round matches. The championship finals will be streamed live by NeuLion for $9.95 starting at 6:45 p.m. Click here for more information and to get registered.