Grand View puts eight into semis; leads Southern Oregon by 10 after first day of NAIA Championships
By Jason Bryant
Editor, Amateur Wrestling News
For a school that had never won a national title in any sport, Grand View University is starting to run with this wrestling thing.
After winning the 2012 NAIA National Championship at the Jacobson Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa last year, the hometown Vikings are again in a position to win the championship, but it’s not a sure thing.
For most of the first day, Montana State-Northern, Great Falls and Southern Oregon traded the lead with Grand View, but when the quarterfinals finished and the 40 semifinalists were in place, the Vikings had over a 20-point lead after going 8-1 in the session.
Then came the consolations and Grand View was left with only the eight semifinalists assured of placing, allowing Southern Oregon and Montana State-Northern to close the gap.
At the end of the first day, Grand View held an 10-point lead over second-place Southern Oregon and a 23.5-point lead over third-place Montana State-Northern.
“That number (eight) is good, but I’m pretty disappointed in the backside right now,” said Grand View head coach Nick Mitchell. “We had three guys who had a chance to become an All-American there and didn’t perform.”
Losing the ability to score more points in the consolations concerns Mitchell, whose team is closer to the rest of the field than they would like.
“We just have to keep winning the close matches, I don’t think there’s any real formula, you just have to win,” said Mitchell. “We have to win those semi matches and then for some reason, if guys get beat, they have to come back and respond if they lose.”
With a more compact field in the NAIA championships this year, opportunities for the top programs to score bonus points were limited compared to previous years.
“Not really preparation, it changes the tournament a little bit, it’s two days instead of three; in the past there may be an easy round or two in the tournament, but now it’s tough right away.
“There’s no easy matches. There’s a lot of good kids here,” said Mitchell.
Gustavo Martinez started the quarterfinal roll with a 6-3 win over All-American Chris Teague of Campbellsville at 141 pounds. It was followed immediately with Isaiah Tatum’s 7-1 win over York’s Nicholas Clark at 149 pounds. Martinez will take on Lindsey Wilson’s Wismit Moinius in the semifinals, while Tatum will face top-ranked Mike Vassar of Great Falls at 149.
Grand View had two wrestlers in the quarters at 157 and 165 pounds.
Chad Lowman, third last year, moved into the semis with a dominant 14-2 major decision over another Light wrestler, Edward Cheff 14-2. Lowman will meet a familiar opponent in the semis — Conor Young of Campbellsville after Young beat Trever Devestern of Dakota Wesleyan 7-2 in the top bracket quarter. Lowman beat Young in last year’s consolation semifinals.
On the bottom side, Quinten Haynes got past Tyler Johnson of Dickinson State 12-9 and will face Iowa State transfer Joey Cozart in the semis at 157. Cozart, from Lindsey Wilson, beat All-American Colby Crank of Bethany 5-2 in the quarters.
The Viking ship kept sailing towards the finals as 165-pounder Jimmie Schuessler picked up a major decision over Derek Mestrovich of Southern Oregon and Thomas Moman beat Waldorf’s Anthony Pike 3-2 at 174 pounds. Moman will be a pronounced underdog against returning NAIA champion Brock Gutches of Southern Oregon in Saturday’s semifinal round.
Ethan Hinebauch of Montana State-Northern headlocked Dallas Houchins after trailing 4-1 to get the fall at 2:21 at 165 for the Vikings only loss of the quarterfinals.
Derek Nightser gave Grand View another bonus victory at 197 pounds as he trounced University of the Cumberlands’ Courtney Freeman 11-1. It was followed by returning champion Eric Thompson’s technical fall over Vince Pezzuto, also of the University of the Cumberlands.
In the consolations, Southern Oregon started its climb back into contention with 133-pounder Miguel Baltazar winning three straight to earn All-American honors, as did 157-pounder Dalton Urrutia. The same can be said for 197-pounder Charles Johnson. After a first-round loss, the third-ranked Johnson scored three straight falls to pick up vital team points.
Individually, one of the top performances came from Cumberland University sophomore Cody Linton. Coming in ranked 16th, Linton upended returning NAIA champion Jashua Marsh of Midland in the opening round, then beat Great Falls’ Adam Wolfe and then upset returning All-American Jarid Price of Baker.
Linton will face Lindsey Wilson’s Jameel Bryant, ranked eighth coming in, in Saturday’s semifinal at 184 pounds.
Two-time champion Mitchell Lofstedt’s quest for a third title grows closer as the Southern Oregon senior pinned all three of his opponents on the day to reach the semifinals at 125 pounds. Lofstedt will face Oklahoma City’s Kidd Gomez in the semifinals.
The Raiders aren’t just riding the success of Lofstedt and Gutches as Prescott Garner reached the semifinals at 133 pounds and returning runner-up Jimmy Eggemeyer returned to the semifinals at 149 pounds.
The upset bug bit a few top-ranked wrestlers early as Marsh lost, as did All-Americans Mike Brown of Oklahoma City (197), Weston Keleher (184) and Deteoureious Prayther, both of Missouri Baptist, were all knocked out of the tournament.
In early round action, Thompson avoided an early scare, getting thrown to his back by Simpson’s Austin Lobsinger to trail 5-3 early. All it did was make the Iowa native mad. Thompson scored the next 17 points to earn a 20-5 technical fall to move into the next round.
125: Aaron La Farge (Montana State-Northern) vs. Bryden Lazaro (Dickinson State); Kidd Gomez (Oklahoma City) vs. Mitchell Lofstedt (Southern Oregon)
133: Angel Garcia (Menlo) vs. Prescott Garner (Southern Oregon); Cameron Neiss (Montana State-Northern) vs. Jason Arreola (York)
141: Brandon Westerman (Campbellsville) vs. Myles Mazurkiewicz (Great Falls); Wismit Moinius (Lindsey Wilson) vs. Gustavo Martinez (Grand View)
149: Chase Burns (Great Falls) vs. Jimmy Eggemeyer (Southern Oregon); Isaiah Tatum (Grand View) vs. Mike Vassar (Great Falls)
157: Conor Young (Campbellsville) vs. Chad Lowman (Grand View); Joey Cozart (Lindsey Wilson) vs. Quinten Haynes (Grand View);
165: Eric Lopez (Menlo) vs. Ethan Hinebauch (Montana State-Northern); Shawn Lau (Great Falls) vs. Jimmie Schuessler (Grand View)
174: Chino Alvarez (Wayland Baptist) vs. Max Payne (Montana State-Northern); Thomas Moman (Grand View) vs. Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon)
184: Toby Cheff (Montana State-Northern) vs. Jesse Hellinger (Dickinson State); Jameel Bryant (Lindsey Wilson) vs. Cody Linton (Cumberland U.)
197: Carl Lawrence (Missouri Valley) vs. Derek Nightser (Grand View); John Sievert (Morningside) vs. Josh Manu (Missouri Valley)
285: Brandon Gebhardt (Baker) vs. Jose Lopez (Dickinson State); Eric Thompson (Grand View) vs. Scott Brasil (Menlo).
1. Grand View 93; 2. Southern Oregon 83; 3. MSU-Northern 69.5; 4. Dickinson State University 53; 5. Lindsey Wilson 51.5; 5. U. Great Falls 51.5; 7. Missouri Valley College 43; 8. Campbellsville University 42; 9. Menlo 29; 9. Midland University 29; 11. Cumberland University 24.5; 12. Morningside College 23.5; 12. Simpson 23.5; 14. Indiana Tech 22.5; 14. Oklahoma City 22.5; 16. Baker 20.5; 17. York College 18.5; 18. Dakota Wesleyan University 16; 19. Wayland Baptist 15.5; 20. Hastings College 13