Oskaloosa: Eight people ranked in the top six and four won their tickets to the Nationals as William Penn’s men’s wrestling team had a robust showing at the Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday.
WPU finished fourth of 11 teams with 93 points, while Grand View took the team crown with 229 points. It’s the second year in a row that the team has finished fourth, but this season is different as the Statesmen qualified twice as many people for the NAIA National Championship.
William Penn will be represented at the Nationals by 149-pounder Cameron Hargrove (So., Bolingbrook, Ill., Undecided), 157-pounder Kael Bunce (Jr., Stockbridge, Mich., Mechanical Engineering), 174-pounder Makail Stanley (So., Oreana, Ill., Biology) and 197-pound Branson Bottorff (Jr., Mackinaw, Ill., Industrial Technology).
Several other people were just outside watching the qualifying berths on a day where nine WPU grapplers had multiple wins.
Navy and Gold got off to a slow start with only six members winning their first game. Most of the team’s work, therefore, was done on the consolation side.
Stanley was the only statesman never to face relegation to the consolation side as he won his first three matches, including one by fall and one by big decision, to reach the final. Unfortunately, he was defeated 12-3 by Grand View’s top seed Isaiah Luellen in the championship bout.
Eight wrestlers had a chance to reach their bronze fight, but were denied. Due to the large number of national qualifying allocations Heart had, Hargrove, Bunce and Bottorff earned spots with fifth place.
Hargrove had back-to-back victories in technical fall to advance to the semifinals, but failed there. After falling to the losers bracket, the sophomore stalled his bid by outscoring Missouri Valley’s Steven Weathers 11-6 to cap a 3-2 day.
After succumbing in his first fight, Bottorff rallied with back to back decisions to make it to the consolation semifinals. He lost in the fight but was declared the winner in fifth place for medical forfeits to block a trip to Kansas next month.
Bunce’s berth was bittersweet as he was forced to face teammate Steven Skewes (So., Duchesne, Utah, Exercise Science) in the final game to secure his spot. Bunce took down a couple foes to make it to the semifinals. After losing two games in a row, the junior had to overcome Skewes in a thrilling 14-12 decision for a final record of 3-2.
Skewes did all his damage (3-2 overall) from the left side of the bracket, winning twice by fall and once more by technical fall before a defeat put him against Bunch in the fifth-place showdown.
Matheson Meade (So., Knoxville, Tenn., Exercise Science) was also 3-2 and placed fifth with a fall and a big decision at 165 pounds.
Both 133-pound Sabri Sino (Fr., Franklin, Wis., Sports Management) and 285-pound Maxwell Diaz (Jr., Miami, Fla., Sports Management) finished sixth on Saturday. Sino was 2-3 on a big decision, while Diaz pinned an opponent.
The 125-pound Jeffery Myers (Fr., Yelm, Washington, Education) had two wins (fall, big decision), while the 141-pound Noah Aken (Fr., Omaha, Neb., Education) had a technical fall and a decision is also important. 184-pounder Mason Walters (So., Independence, Mo., Exercise Science) also recorded a fall at the championship.
“I’m really proud of how we fought today,” said head coach Aron Scott. “Our guys had heart and energy and fighting and we definitely fought the best we have all year, which was our goal. Everyone left it on the carpet. Not only have our best team finished in the points in years, but we also doubled the number of domestic qualifiers from last season. I’m excited for two weeks from now when we go to Nationals and fight to get these guys on the podium.
Next up: The national qualifying quartet will travel to Wichita, Kan. for citizens on March 3-4.
Posted by Wade Steinlage on February 20, 2023. Filed under College Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry via RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.