Upstarts Newberry, RIT storm into National Duals semifinals; Win streaks continue for St. Cloud State, Grand View

Louisville, Kentucky — Even with Covid protocols creating havoc on bracketing, the first day of the 2022 NWCA Multi-Division National Dual Meet Championships came to a close with some familiar faces leading the way at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Men’s Divisions Brackets | Women’s Divisions Brackets

Grand View University extended its college wrestling-record win streak to 108 in a row after picking up dominant wins over Midway (Ky.) and Cumberland University in the NAIA Men’s division. Coach Nick Mitchell’s Vikings are in search of the school’s 10th straight National Duals championship. 

“So far we’ve met the expectation,” said Mitchell. “Tomorrow will be tougher and we’re looking forward to that.”

Grand View, which hasn’t lost a dual meet since 2013 and hasn’t lost a dual against an NAIA school since 2011, will face fourth-seeded Reinhardt (Ga.) in the semis. Reinhardt pushed past a stingy Indiana Tech squad 22-10 in the quarterfinals. 

The bottom half of the NAIA bracket pits second-seeded Life University against third-seeded Doane. Life opened with a. 47-0 shutout over Brewton-Parker and then moved into the semifinals with a 40-8 win over Campbellsville. 

Doane secured its first top-four finish at the National Duals in the school’s short history by pushing past Baker (Ks.) 21-16 in the opening round. The Tigers, led by two-time NAIA national champion Baterdene Boldmaa at 141 pounds, topped Lindsey Wilson 31-6 in the quarterfinals. 

The nation’s second longest dual win streak belongs to St. Cloud State. The Huskies are eyeing a fifth straight Division II championship, but they will have to do it from the second seed. After starting with a 47-0 win over King in the opening round, St. Cloud State topped Indianapolis 33-9 to win the school’s 76th dual meet in a row. The win tied the school with Oklahoma State for the longest win streak in NCAA history. Oklahoma State, then known as Oklahoma A&M, won 76 in a row from 1937-1951. 

St. Cloud State will face third-seeded Nebraska-Kearney. The Lopers reached the semifinals by beating Ashland 40-3 in the quarterfinals. 

Unseeded Newberry was the Division II bracket buster in the top half. The Wolves opened up by beating fourth-seeded McKendree 24-16 and fifth-seeded Upper Iowa 25-18. 

With no wrestlers ranked in the most recent NWCA Division II rankings, three Wolves picked off higher ranked wrestlers against McKendree, including Evan Carrigan’s major decision at 125 pounds over top-ranked Christian Mejia and Devon Rice’s 2-1 win over second-ranked Ian Kuehl at 285 pounds. 

“We don’t worry about rankings,” said first-year Newberry head coach Deral Brown. “We knew all season long we’ve been down. We’re missing a national champion at 141 pounds, we’re missing another guy at 133. We just told the guys to come in and earn that respect. Typically Super Region 2 doesn’t get a lot of respect on the national scene and I told them to come in and earn it and show everyone we can wrestle on a national stage.”

The squad was also buoyed by the return of former head coach Cy Wainwright, who had to step away from the head coaching position last summer after dealing with a personal tragedy. It was clearly a lift for Brown, who served as an assistant for Wainwright in 2018 at Newberry.

“When me, him and (Bryant) Blanton are coaching together as a staff, the guys feed off that as well and I think that’s why we wrestled so great today,” said Brown. “(The team) felt that energy and they brought that energy when we wrestled.”

Newberry will have a tall order ahead of them as they’ll face the top-seeded Bronchos of Central Oklahoma. UCO opened with a 39-9 win over Findlay before cruising past eighth-seeded Colorado Mesa 31-6. 

Over 30 teams canceled their trips due to covid-related and weather-related travel issues. The tournament kicked off with 73 teams in six different divisions, but was initially slated to have over 100. 

Two of those cancellations impacted Division III heavily as the only two schools to ever win the Division III title – Wartburg and Augsburg – both cancelled. 

Who wasn’t here wasn’t an issue for Rochester Institute of Technology. The eighth-seeded Tigers clawed their way into the semifinals, opening with a 33-12 win over Averett and then a riveting 27-15 win over top-seeded Coe. Coe had earned the top seed by earlier defeating Augsburg this season in a dual meet. 

With the semifinal berth, RIT assured itself of a top-four finish for the first time in school history. Coach Jason Bovenzi was obviously thrilled with his squad’s performance. 

“Getting this tournament on the schedule for our guys was important for us,” said Bovenzi. “You cast you vision when you’re recruiting and building a program and this was a group that bought in. When they come out, they compete and they love each other.”

At 141 pounds, Shane Murphy gave RIT a big momentum push, pinning Coe’s Brock Henderson in the second period while behind 3-1 before countering a leg attack and taking Henderson to his back for the fall. At 157 pounds, RIT’s Kaidon Winters earned his 14th fall of the season.

“There’s a lot of energy in this environment,” said Bovenzi. “We came two years ago and we got a taste. There’s no simulation for a national tournament like this. You’ve got the best in the country banging heads here and you want to use it as a measuring stick. The atmosphere in national tournament-like. Our guys were all in and focused one match at a time.” 

RIT will face fifth-seeded Wabash. The Little Giants’ Max Bishop 6-2 victory at 285 pounds broke a 15-15 tie and gave Wabash the 18-15 victory over fourth-seeded Baldwin Wallace. 

Second-seeded Wisconsin-La Crosse reached the semifinals with a 26-14 win over previously unbeaten Millikin. Trailing 14-11, the Eagles swept the final four weights, highlighted by Kayln Jahn’s first-period fall at 184 pounds. UW-La Crosse will meet third-seeded North Central College. The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-3 lead on Johnson & Wales (R.I.) and never looked back. North Central makes the semifinals for the first time in school history and has assured itself a place in the top eight for the first time as well. 

On the women’s side, the NAIA bracket, top-seeded Campbellsville was impressive, sweeping all 20 individual matches on the day. Coach Lee Miracle’s Tigers opened with a 46-2 win over Missouri Valley before a 45-2 quarterfinal win over Indiana Tech. Campbellsville will face fifth-seeded Grand View, which reached the semifinals after beating fourth-seeded Texas Wesleyan 26-19. 

Campbellsville is looking for its second women’s team championship. They won the combined women’s division in 2018. 

“The team wrestled very well today,” said Miracle. “I saw good fundamentals and good position throughout. We will have to continue to wrestle well tomorrow as we face a tough Grand View team in the semifinals. I am looking forward to seeing how well we wrestle when the heat gets turned up.”

The bottom half has second-seeded Life facing off with third-seeded Southern Oregon. Both schools are looking for their first finals appearance as the NWCA split out NCAA and NAIA women’s teams into separate bracketed divisions in 2020. Southern Oregon opened with a 41-6 win over Brewton-Parker and followed with a 34-10 win over the University of the Cumberlands. Life had one dual on the day, a 33-10 win over Baker. 

The cancellations limited the NCAA women’s division to just 10 teams, so the tournament adjusted the draw to a two-pool format with the top two teams from each pool meeting in the semifinals. In Pool A, four-time women’s champion King went 3-0 and didn’t drop a single bout on Thursday. The Tornado will face Augsburg in the fifth round of pool competition on Friday morning to determine the semifinal draws. Augsburg has an outside shot at reaching the semifinals, but fell earlier in pool competition to Tiffin. King bested Limestone 46-1, Tiffin 44-1 and UW-Stevens Point 43-1. In Pool B, McKendree went 3-0 and will face North Central College to determine the semifinal placement. Both schools are 3-0. McKendree beat Adrian and Presbyterian by identical 43-4 scores and also topped Lindenwood 40-6. North Central beat Lindenwood 37-9, Presbyterian 40-10 and Adrian 44-6. 

The NJCAA portion of the tournament will wrestle to completion on Friday with five teams wrestling in a round-robin format. 

Action resumes on Friday  at the 2022 U.S. MARINE CORPS/NWCA Multi-Division National Dual Meet Championships – Presented by ARMS Software, Capitol Construction & Defense Soap, hosted by NUWAY at 9 a.m. Eastern with semifinals set for 11 a.m. in all bracketed divisions and  championship finals at 3 p.m.

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