TOPEKA, Kan. – (Brackets – PDF) Collegiate wrestling history was made Saturday night in the final session of the 2016 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, presented by USA Wrestling-Kansas, as Grand View (Iowa) won an unprecedented fifth-straight team national title. The 59th annual event took place at the Kansas Expocentre for the third-straight season.
With the win, the Vikings are the first team in NAIA history to win five-consecutive national titles. Additionally, Grand View is only the fifth program in collegiate wrestling history (NAIA, NJCAA, NCAA) to win five-or-more consecutive championships. The other programs to do so are NCAA Division I Iowa (six-straight (1995-2000) and nine-straight (1978-1986)), NCAA Division I Oklahoma State (seven-straight (1937-1949)), NCAA Division II Cal State-Bakersfield (five-straight (1979-1983)) and NCAA Division II Cal Poly (seven-straight (1968-1974)).
“It’s awesome,” said Grand View head coach Nick Mitchell. “Some of the teams that are on that list (five-or-more straight winners) it’s just awesome to be associated with some programs like that. I never would have thought that we were going to end up in a place like we are now. We lost six All-Americans last year and had a lot of new faces in the room. We had a bunch of guys that didn’t have national championship experience. To see these guys put in the work, live the championship lifestyle and believe in the system, and have it pay off for them makes me so proud.”
Grand View set a new standard for team scoring at the NAIA national championships with 210 points. The point total shattered the previous scoring record of 193 points, which was originally set by former member Dana (Neb.) in 2006 and later tied by Grand View in 2014.
The Vikings had seven grapplers in the finals, however only three walked away as national champions – Jacob Colon (133 pounds), Michael Pixley (184 pounds) and Dean Broghammer (285 pounds). Pixley, who finished runner-up last season, ended the year with a perfect 28-0 record en route to the NWCA-NAIA National Wrestler of the Year Award.
In total, the three title winners give Grand View 18 national champions in the club’s eight-year history.
Baker (Kan.), which finished tied for sixth overall with 57.5 points, finished the night with two national champions – the only club outside of Grand View to accomplish that feat. Victor Hughes – the No. 8 seed at 149 pounds – outlasted No. 2 Tyler Cowger of Southern Oregon, 4-3. Hughes is a two-time All-American after finishing in eighth-place in 2015.
One weight class later, the Wildcats made it two-for-two when four-time All-American Colby Crank upended Grant Henderson of Grand View (Iowa), 4-3, at 157 pounds. Crank was appearing in the finals for the second time in his career.
Four of the other five weight classes were won by an individual that claimed the banner for the first time in program history – Mitch Pawlak of Indiana Tech (125 pounds), Andrew Schulte of Concordia (Neb.) (141 pounds), Blake Cooper of Warner Pacific (Ore.) (165 pounds) and Cody Linton of Doane (Neb.) (197 pounds).
Cooper was named the championships’ Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Riley Boomer continued the strong tradition of Missouri Valley wrestling, winning the 174-pound weight class with an 8-3 decision of Lawton Benna of Grand View. Boomer, who ended the season with a 31-2 record, is the 17th individual champion in Missouri Valley history – third most among active NAIA programs.
The top five schools in the team race were Montana State-Northern (104 points), Indiana Tech (75.5 points), Missouri Valley (75.5 points) and Campbellsville (Ky.) (66.5 points).
For more information on the NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.