NWCA Duals Recap
This past weekend the NWCA Duals went up in Cedar Falls, Iowa and if you weren’t there to watch in person or watch it on FloWrestling, you missed out on some amazing wrestling and some wild upsets in all divisions of men’s and women’s. We will break down our top two picks from each division that stood out to us that earned this week's wrestler of the week.
GV and Life Trading Blows
In perhaps the biggest dual of the weekend, Life managed to snap Grand View’s NAIA dual win-streak that dated back to 2012. Life won 6 out of 10 matches and scored some huge bonus points to win 24-17. Each team knocked off a returning national champion from the opposing team. The dual started off in Grand View’s favor, when Aden Reeves took out Life’s 2x national champion Brandon Orum, by major decision 13-4. Life immediately clapped back at 133 when Thaddeus Long techfalled #7 Jackson Cockrell 19-3 with 6 takedowns. Life and Grand View traded the next two matches to tie the dual going into 157. Then Life went on a roll. Balmeceda got a major thanks to a third period turn. Jaden New shook the building with a massive headlock to get a pin. Riley Smucker took care of business at 174. Grand View got back on the board at 184, but Life was close to clinching the dual. Demarco Lee used a late-match takedown and gritty defense to take out #1, returning champion, and P4P #2 Owen Braungardt 4-2. Despite Greg Hagan closing out the dual with a pin, the damage was done. Life University clinched their program-first NWCA Duals national title.
Other NAIA Top Performers
Life and Grand View didn’t have the only impressive NAIA performances of the weekend. Unranked Anthony Hughes (Marian) beat #5 Andrew Voiles (Southeastern) in OT and #15 Devin Avedissian (Doane). This was a big bounce back for Hughes who was coming off of a tough dual loss in December. Antwuan Burns (Campbellsville) had himself a good weekend, beating #5 Kana’i Tapia (Menlo) and #13 Ben Miller (Doane). He’s 12-1 this season with his only loss coming to #1 Balmeceda. Burns wasn’t ranked very high considering his results from last season, his true freshman campaign. This weekend confirms he is a force to be reckoned with. Just because Tapia lost to Burns doesn’t mean he had a bad weekend by any means either; he beat the returning national champion Sal Silva (Southeastern) in his last match of the weekend.
Tornado Touched Down
It was a breakout weekend for Victoria Baez Dillone, who defeated a 3x NCAA National Champion and a Bronze World Medalist at the NWCA Duals that took place over the weekend. She first started her college wrestling at Umpqua Community College where she was NJCAA National Champion and brought her talent to King University. Currently, the team is ranked #3 per The Open Mat rankings, and she entered the weekend ranked #9 as an individual. Her first big win came over Alexis Janiak of Aurora, a runner-up at nationals last year and Bronze Medalist at the U20 World Championships. But Janiak could not get a shot in on Dillone at all during this match. Dilone had two amazing 4-point throws that helped her pull off the upset and win this match over Janiak 8-0. In the 3rd place match, Dillone faced 3x national champion from McKendree, Cameron Guerin. This was a tightly contested match won by Dillone 2-2 on criteria, with a literal last-second pushout. Both of the foes she defeated were in The Open Mat’s Pound-for-Pound top ten. Dillone is a great testament that even if you start out in NJCAA, you can still hang with the best of the best, and win.
Beware The Lion
The Emmanuel team as a whole surprised us this weekend, coming in ranked #15 per The Open Mat rankings. They scored two big dual wins over #10 Lock Haven and #12 Aurora. The wrestler from Emmanuel that stood out to us was Dinayah Vazquez. Vazquez qualified for nationals last year as a freshman. Now as a sophomore, she is making a name for herself and also helping her team make a name for themselves. Vazquez pulled off two big wins over top-10 girls; both of which were pins. She pinned #7 Adriana Gomez (Colorado Mesa) and #9 Ahsia Torres (Sacred Heart). They may not have won these two duals against Colorado Mesa and Sacred Heart but these pins get Emmanuel in both duals against some top teams.
Down Goes Number 1
This may have been the most shocking result of the weekend. Micah Fisher (Cumberlands) pinned the #1 in the nation, Jamilah McBryde (Life). In freestyle, things really happen in the blink of an eye, and you’re never really out of a match until that final whistle blows. Down 7-1 to start the second period, Fisher used a perfectly timed lat drop to get a pin. Assuring us the victory was no accident, Fisher followed up with another great win, this time over #7 Isabelle Hawley (William Penn). Tied at the break, Fisher used another big 4-point move to take the lead and eventually win 10-4. Fisher’s go-for-broke style may have cost her a few matches earlier in the season, but two things are for sure: 1) man, is it fun to watch, and 2) she will be capable of winning any match she is in, this year.
Did you see that? Was it a shooting star?! Nope, just Oklahoma City Star Marissa Jimenez. Jimenez didn’t start as a freshman last year for the OCU team, but as a sophomore, she is making a name for herself after this weekend. Both of her upsets were against top-ranked girls in NAIA; one by pin, another by a tech fall. Her first win was against #5 Kailey Rees (Providence) where she pinned her in the first period. Jimenez followed that with a loss to a formidable Grand View foe, but she redeemed herself with a tech fall over #11 Maia Crumb (Indiana Tech).
Unseeded Augustana Breaks into the Finals
Coming into any duals, you never know what to truly expect nor do you know what the outcome will truly be. Typically, you wouldn’t predict an unseeded team to break into the national finals, but Augustana did just that. They started off the tournament wrestling 7-seed Indianapolis, where they controlled in a 36-13 win, with three pins and two tech falls. Next round they had a tough team that just beat 2-seed West Liberty, Northern State, but the Vikings shut that down, winning 29-9 with two tech falls. In the semifinals, they faced 3-seed Lander. This dual between Lander and Augustana came down to the wire but the Vikings pulled off the win 17-16 thanks to some key bonus points.
Few of the Augustana wrestlers during all their matches at the NWCA National Duals stood out to us. First is Cael Larson at 149. He may not have won all his matches at the NWCA Duals, but he did have three close matches to top-15 ranked wrestlers that if he could have had a few more seconds the match could have been in Larson's favor. He has the best win of the weekend over the #1 and P4P member, Wyatt Turnquist (Northern State). Another key player was Tyler Wagener at 165 had two dominant wins over Indianapolis and Northern State by tech fall and major. Max Ramberg was 3-1 on the weekend with his best win being over #11 from Lander, Anthony Yacovetti. Max Ballow was a key wrestler in the dual with Lander. Even though he didn’t win the 285 match, he prevented #4 Juan Edmond-Holmes from scoring bonus points, helping Augustana win the dual by a point. The only Viking who went undefeated on the weekend Cade Mueller. He had two ranked wins to go 4-0 on the weekend, with his best win being a minor upset over #5 Garrett Wells, the only victory for the Vikings against the Central Oklahoma Bronchos in the dual finals.
Warhawks, Kohawks, D3 Upsets, Oh My!
We have two Willie Warhawks that jumped out to us at the NWCA Duals and both helped UW-Whitewater to success this weekend. Let’s start with #19 Brayden Peet who took out two ranked wrestlers in the DIII division over the week. Peet and his team's first dual was against #6 Castleton. He kept #14 Nicholas Roeger scoreless in an 11-0 win. This was vital in #19 UW-Whitewater’s victory over #6 Castleton 19-12. The next team they came across was another Wisconsin team, UW-La Crosse where it came down to the very end. Peet picked up another upset over #6 Noah Leisgang by a decision of 4-1. Jalen Dunson was also a key figure this dual, as he took out #19 Remington Bontrager by tech fall, 18-3. UW-La Crosse did end up winning this dual 21-20, but Peet and Dunson made it an interesting dual. That wasn’t Dunson’s only great performance. He also won a controlling 12-5 decision over #6 Gavin Bradley and majored #20 Cade Hornback by major, 16-6.
Coe College as a whole is another team that surprised us over the weekend being only ranked #14 and coming home with 5th place at the NWCA Duals. They beat #13 Wabash, #19 UW-Whitewater, & #10 Johnson & Wales. They wrestled Johnson & Wales in the first dual on Friday and lost by only two points, but then for 5th place they dominated them 33-10. The wrestler that stood out to us the most from Coe was their 197 Mathieu Arsenailt, who beat two top-20 wrestlers. He was able to beat the same top ten opponent twice on the weekend. Right off the bat he won by decision over #9 Dylan Harr (Johnson & Wales), and then on the 5th place match, he pinned Harr in 1:59. Arsenault also pinned #17 Treyten Steffen (Cornell) in 0:47. On the whole weekend, Arsenault went undefeated, winning 5 matches.