By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
TOPEKA, Kan. – (Team Scores, Brackets) It happened again. Grand View (Iowa) rewrote the record book by winning its sixth-straight team title and set a new scoring record of 234.5 points Saturday night in the final session of the 2017 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, presented by USA Wrestling-Kansas. The 60th annual event took place at the Kansas Expocentre for the fourth-straight season.
The Vikings, which realistically locked down the team championship by the end of the first day, are the first team in NAIA Wrestling history to win six-consecutive national titles. Additionally, the Vikings are only the fourth program in collegiate wrestling history (NAIA, NJCAA, NCAA). 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)) and NCAA Division II Cal Poly (seven-straight (1968-1974)).
“This is a really tight nit group,” said Grand View head coach Nick Mitchell. “Every year you have to have a close knit group – a bunch of guys that really care for each other – and I think this team had that at another level this year. These guys really looked out for each other, pushed each other. It’s something that can’t be overlooked.”
Grand View set a new team scoring standard shattered last season’s mark of 210.0. The club has now either tied or set a new scoring record in three out of the last four years.
Five of Grand View’s six grapplers in the finals walked away as national champions, highlighted by Jacob Colon at 133 pounds. The senior from Clear Lake, Iowa, claimed a major decision (12-1) victory over No. 2 Mitch Pawlak of Indiana Tech to earn a second-straight individual title.
“He (Colon) is one of those guys that’s a prime example of how to do everything,” said Mitchell. “Jacob does a great job in school, he does a great job off the mats and he’s a huge leader for us.”
Grand View’s three other national champions were Josh Wenger at 141 pounds, Grand Henderson at 165 pounds, Lawton Benna at 174 pounds and Evan Hansen at 197 pounds. Benna and Henderson both improved upon second-place finishes a season ago, while Wenger and Hansen were competing at the national championships for the first time.
In total, the five title winners gives Grand View 29 national champions in the club’s nine-year history.
The Blue Raiders of Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) claimed second-place honors at this year’s championships. The team tallied 74.5 points and was headlined by four All-Americans, including runner-up finishes by Cam Tessari at 157 pounds and Rhodes Bell at 174 pounds. During the awards presentations, Lindsey Wilson head coach Cory Ruff was named NAIA-NWCA National Coach of the Year.
Rounding out the top five in the team standings was No. 3 Campbellsville (Ky.) (64.5 points), No. 4 Williams Baptist (Ark.) (61.5 points) and No. 5 Southern Oregon (60.5 points). Southern Oregon has now finished among the top 10 in the team standings for nine-consecutive years.
Montana State-Northern, which took eighth overall in the team race, was the only club besides Grand View to have more than one individual claim a national title. Brandon Weber, who was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at this year’s national championships, started off the finals in exciting fashion for the Lights, as he claimed a 4-2 sudden victory win over Tessari at 157 pounds.
Ben Stroh rounded out a perfect championship session for Montana State-Northern with a 6-5 victory over Chuck Sharon of Campbellsville (Ky.) at 184 pounds. The senior for Chinook, Mont., has been the model of consistency all season and was named the NWCA/NAIA Wrestler of the Year after ending the year with a 45-2 record.
At 125 pounds, Troy Lakin of Menlo (Calif.) – the No. 3 seed entering the event – downed top-seeded Adrian Camposano, 15-6, en route to the Oaks’ first national title since Robert Davis and Jesse Ruiz claimed the 165 pound and 285 pound banners in 2008. Menlo now has seven all-time national champions.
Scottie Bonds (133 pounds) of Midland (Neb.) gave the club its second national champion. The junior pinned Walker Marshall of Grand View (Iowa) at the 6:53 mark.
Lastly, Williams Baptist (Ark.) made program history when Demetrius Thomas became the school’s first-ever national champion. The redshirt freshman used a near fall in the opening period to jump out to an early lead that he would never relinquish en route to a 10-2 major decision win over Ceron Francisco of Concordia (Neb.).
For more information on the NAIA Wrestling National Championships, click here.