DES MOINES -- With the score tied heading into the final bout, Grand View's (Iowa) Eric Thompson first-period fall at 285 pounds scored the decisive points as Grand View won its second straight title at the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships on Saturday at the Jacobson Exhibition Center. The Vikings tallied 159 points to edge second-place Southern Oregon (153). Montana State-Northern came in third with 104.0 points, while Dickinson State (N.D.) took fourth-place with 84.5 points and Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) finished fifth with 78.5 points.
Grand View won its second straight NAIA national title"I'm feeling good right now," said Grand View head coach Nick Mitchell. "It was really nerve wracking. This tournament was so back-and-forth. The crazy thing was, it didn't matter how much we won by, Southern Oregon still stuck around. We had eight guys in the semis and you'd think that would be enough to start pulling away and we never pulled away; they were right there. Coach Mike Ritchey, he had a great team."
"I was so impressed with our crowd tonight," said Mitchell. "Every win we had in the finals, you'd look up and see them going crazy. You get choked up looking up there because they are so supportive. It was awesome."
Deadlocked at 159 points with just the heavyweight championship match remaining, the see-saw battle between Grand View and Southern Oregon was to be decided by Thompson and Brandon Gebhardt of Baker (Kan.). A win by Thompson would give Grand View the outright team title, but a win by Gebhardt would result in the Vikings and Raiders sharing the trophy, something that had only occurred once in the event's 56-year history.
Thompson wasted no time with his offensive attack, taking the Wildcat down at the 2:23 mark in the first period. A quick escape by Gebhardt put the match at 2-1. Thompson whipped Gebhardt over to his back and pinned him with a minute left in the opening period to give Grand View its second-consecutive national title.
Thompson's victory is his second-straight title at 285 with both victories coming against Gebhardt. Thompson is the eighth champion in Grand View history and only the second heavyweight to win back-to-back titles in the 285-pound era.
In addition to Thompson, Gustavo Martinez (141), Chad Lowman (157) and Jimmie Schuessler (165) claimed national crowns, while Isaiah Tatum finished runner-up after dropping a 3-2 decision to Southern Oregon's two-time All-American Jimmy Eggemeyer at 149 pounds. In total, Grand View had eight individuals earn All-America honors.
Martinez, the first of five Vikings to battle for a title, pulled Grand View even with Southern Oregon at 145-145 with a 5-2 decision over Great Falls' (Mont.) Myles Mazurkiewicz at 141 pounds. Escapes early in the second and third periods by both wrestlers evened the bout at 1-1. With 24 seconds remaining, Martinez stuck and took Mazurkiewicz down for a 3-1 advantage. Mazurkiewicz was able to escape from Martinez's hold seconds later to make it 3-2. Martinez was not done though. He secured his first title with eight seconds remaining by taking Mazurkiewicz down again.
Three matches later, Schuessler had to rally late in the third period in order to get a 4-3 decision over Eric Lopez of Menlo (Calif.) for the 165-pound championship. After three minutes of scoreless action, Lopez started the second stanza from the down position and escaped to take a 1-0 advantage. He added to his lead with a takedown only to have Schuessler respond with an escape. Facing a 3-1 deficit to start the final two minutes, Schuessler escaped and took to the offensive. The winning takedown came with short time and Schuessler rode Lopez out the remaining 22 seconds en route to his first national crown.
Southern Oregon's senior 125-pounder Mitchell Lofstedt closed out his illustrious career in typical fashion with a first-period stick (2:31) of Dickinson State's Bryden Lazaro. With the victory, Lofstedt became the 19th three-time NAIA champion and the first wrestler to win three titles at 125 pounds. The senior tied for the tournament-high with five falls, all of which came in the first period.
"This one (national championship) feels great," said Lofstedt. "My team has been awesome. The best part is being a member of a great team. We've hit some bumpy times and it has been a grind, but I've loved every minute of it."
The Raiders finished the championships with an event-best nine All-Americans, including four national champions in Lofstedt, Prescott Garner (133), Eggemeyer and Brock Gutches (174 pounds). Gutches, who is just the second wrestler to win back-to-back titles at 174 pounds, now owns two titles in two seasons. Additionally, his victory gave Southern Oregon 32 all-time national champions, which moves the Raiders into second-place on the NAIA's all-time individual championships list.
Three individuals earned their first national title and their first All-American honor in the finals: Garner, Jameel Bryant of Lindsey Wilson and John Sievert of Morningside (Iowa).