TOPEKA, Kan. – (Team Scores | Brackets) Grand View (Iowa) cruised to its third-straight team championship after tying an NAIA record with 193 total team points – an NAIA record 108.5 points more than the next team – in the 2014 NAIA Wrestling National Champions at the Kansas Expocentre. Great Falls (Mont.) finished in second place with 84.5 points, edging third-place Montana State-Northern by one point.
Grand View, which is the eight team in NAIA history to win at least three national titles, is the fourth program to win three-straight since Lindenwood (Mo.) claimed three-consecutive banners in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Additionally, the Vikings team total tied former member Dana’s (Neb.) 2006 point total, which previously stood as the national record.
Grand View ended the event with four individual national champions, highlighted by three-time All-American Eric Thompson. The senior 285 pounder controlled the entire match against first-time All-American Courtney Freeman of Cumberlands (Ky.), eventually grinding out a 17-2 technical fall win. With the victory, Thompson becomes the first three-time national champion at the heavyweight division since Jeff Thue of Simon Fraser (B.C.) accomplished the feat in 1991, 1992 and 1993.
Thompson ends his career with a 14-0 all-time record at the national championships.
In addition to Thompson, Ryak Finch (125), Brandon Wright (141) and Chad Lowman (165) claimed national crowns, while Gustavo Martinez (141) and Dallas Houchins (157) finished runner-up after dropping a 2-1 and 5-3 decisions. Overall, Grand View had 11 of its 12 qualifiers earn All-America honors.
Lowman, who was the fifth Viking to take the mat, won his second-straight national champion with a 7-5 victory over three-time All-American Ethan Hinebauch of Montana State-Northern. The 165-pound senior won his first national title last season at 157 pounds.Southern Oregon’s Brock Gutches, who won his third-straight title at 174 pounds with a 3-2 win over Jared Miller of Montana-State Northern, was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler for the 57th annual event. Similarly to Thompson, Gutches has never lost in three appearances at the national championships en route to becoming the first three-time national champion in NAIA history at 174 pounds.
Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) was the only other program with multiple national champions, including Jameel Bryant at 184 pounds. Bryant, who is the fourth national champion in team history, won his second-straight banner with a 6-5 win over Cody Linton of Cumberland (Tenn.), while teammate Joe Cozart avenged his championship final loss last season with a 5-3 win against Dallas Houchins of Grand View.
Bryant is the first 184 pounder to win two-straight national championships since Jeremy Engelhardt of Mary (N.D.) in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Six individuals earned their first national title – Finch, Bryce Shoemaker (133) of Baker (Kan.), Wright, Jake Williams (149) of Cumberland (Tenn.), Cozart and Jesse Hellinger of Dickinson State (N.D.).
Shoemaker is the first-ever national champion for Baker. The freshman grappler won a 3-0 decision against Justin Brooks of Indiana Tech, who was also wrestling in his first title match.
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