Super Match in NAIA
Remember in 2018 when #1 Seth Gross bumped up to 141 to face #1 Bryce Meredith in a super match? How about in 2019 when Sebastian Rivera bumped up to 133 to take Stevan Micic? These are called super matches for a reason. In a culture where it is becoming seemingly more common for competitors to dodge tougher opponents, it is always a treat when someone willingly seeks out the challenge instead. And we were treated this weekend with an NAIA super match. Keller Rock of Embry-Riddle has had a stellar season at 165 and recently was promoted to the #1 spot at a very tough weight. Earlier this season he knocked off the returning national champion. Similar to Rock at 165, NaKoda Siegel of Montana State-Northern has been dominant at 174. 4th in the nation last year, Siegel has won two opens this year, including the Grand View Open. His only loss on the season coming into this match was an injury default. So, when this all-star matchup was announced on social media, my ears perked and my eyebrows raised. Top-2 guys at 165 and and 174 facing off in what would have otherwise been a non-noteworthy dual. The teams decided to save this matchup as the final match of the night. Keller Rock delivered big time up a weight and got the 8-1 win!
High School Freshman Wins Third College Open
What can this freshman in high school do next? Taina Fernandez of Archbishop Spalding High School has now won her third college open following placing second at the Princeton Open back in November. Her most recent win was the FSU Bobcat Open this past weekend where she knocked off King’s top-ranked 130-pounder Victoria Baez-Dilone in the final, winning 10-0. During this whole tournament, she never gave up a single point. We also saw her at the Warrior Open where did the same thing beating two ranked girls; one from NAIA and another from NCAA and didn’t let her opponents score one point on her. At the end of December she wrestled at the Midlands Open where she beat three top-5 ranked girls across NCAA. Her biggest win there was over Alexis Janiak of Aurora who is returning NCAA runner-up at 130 and U20 bronze medalist, another formidable opponent Fernandez teched.
Multiple Types of Vikings Thrive at Grand View Open:
The Grand View women’s wrestling team hosts their annual tournament which combines NJCAA, NCAA, and NAIA schools. Like always, this tournament was tough and stands as one of the last chance to boost their rankings/seeds before postseason. Three ladies stood out to us as our wrestlers of the week. One is Lexi Miller of the Carl Albert State Viking’s, where she walked away as the Grand View Open Champion at 109. Actually, she didn’t walk her way to the final. She PINNED her way to the final, pinning every foe who stepped on the mat against her. She was one of two NJCAA athletes to win the open. Another impressive champion was also a Viking, this time of host school Grand View. Junior Krista Warren of Grand View who had an incredible outcome winning the 143 bracket. She beat two top-15 girls to win this tournament, the first being #13 Reagen Gallaway of Hastings and then in the final she takes down #15 Desiree Jones of Menlo, who also took down some ranked ladies to make it to the final. This weight class had some CRAZY upset over the weekend, can’t wait to see what these ladies bring the rest of the season. Although she didn’t win the title, sophomore Alexandra Lopez of Menlo is worth a mention, as well. She was nearly unstoppable and beat four ranked wrestlers to pick up 3rd place at the Grand View Open at 143. Lopez started the tournament beating #4 Mea Mohler of Texas Wesleyan 11-10 and, let me tell you, this match was crazy to watch. Next she faced #7 Randie Scoon of Ottawa where she beat her 10-4 in another close match with a top-10 girl. In the consi-semsi finals she beat #13 Reagen Gallaway of Hastings 8-7. Her final big win was her tech fall over #8 Micah Fisher of Cumberlands. Between Warren and Lopez, the NAIA 143 weight class has been completely turned on its head.
Greyhounds…. Or Gold Hounds?
This past weekend the Indianapolis men’s team hosted the Greyhound Duals and the Greyhound Open. The Indianapolis team had a great weekend going 3-0 and beating two ranked teams #9 Glenville State and #13 Grand Valley State. During the Grand Valley State dual, two of their men took down two top-10 wrestlers. We started off at 125 where redshirt freshman Nathan Smith knocking out #7 Aaron Lucio. A win at 125, and especially an upset, is always paramount to getting momentum rolling in one team’s direction. Another key upset of this dual was #8 Trey Sizemore taking out #2 Joshua Kenny. These dual wins were huge for Indianapolis to rebound for a tough national duals where they went 1-3. The wins saw them rise from #15 to #9 in The Open Mat dual rankings.
D3 Freshman with a Big Win
The Wisconsin D3 teams are constantly duking it out. Two Wisconsin teams are in the top-5 of the dual rankings, and three in the top-16. One D3 program that probably doesn’t get talked about is UW-Stevens Point. They took on #3 UW-La Crosse this week and although La Crosse controlled the dual, Stevens Point did snag one huge win. Freshman Riese Thornberry was the only Mad Dog to score a victory this dual, a third period pin over #3 Tyler Goebel with just 37 seconds left in the match. Thornberry has been off to a great start as a freshman representing the purple and yellow singlet, placing at three opens. This will certainly be a big confidence boost heading into regionals in a few weeks.