Andrew Long won a Midlands title in 2015
One of the charms of the Midlands Championships has always been its openness. In the past, wrestlers from divisions outside of NCAA Division I have been able to compete and have success. This year, NAIA No. 1 Grand View did not receive any bids for the tournament. With this lack of potential so-called "Cinderella stories" InterMat has decided to take a look back at some of the top non-Division I performances at the Midlands over the last five seasons. The article excludes post-graduate wrestlers such as David Taylor.
2016: Lucas Malmberg (Messiah), sixth at 125
Last year Malmberg defeated a pair of Division I competitors, Paul Bianchi (North Dakota State) and Christian Moody (Oklahoma), and ended up finishing sixth. He did suffer three losses in the tournament, but those turned out to be his only losses of the season. Malmberg went undefeated for the rest of the year and took home his second NCAA Division III title and fourth All-American season.
2015: Andrew Long (Grand View), champion at 141
After a troublesome end to his career at both Iowa State and Penn State, Long tried to revive his career at Grand View. Things got off to a good start on the mat with an impressive performance at the Midlands. He won all five of his matches via bonus points including a technical fall over Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois/Minnesota). However, this turned out to be the high point for Long at Grand View. The following March he was dismissed from the team and school following another off-the-mat incident.
2014: Brandon Wright (Grand View), seventh at 141
Wright defeated multiple Division I wrestlers including Todd Preston (Harvard), Topher Carton (Iowa) and Alex Kocer (South Dakota State) to finish seventh at the 2014 edition of the tournament. His only losses came against All-Americans Josh Dziewa (Iowa) and Joseph McKenna (Stanford/Ohio State). Wright finished the season with his second NAIA national title and currently serves as an assistant coach for the Vikings.
2014: Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon), sixth at 174
Gutches began his collegiate wrestling career at Boise State before transferring to Southern Oregon. He won four NAIA national titles and placed twice at the Midlands Tournament. In 2014, he reached the semifinals with a victory over Nate Jackson (Indiana) in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he dropped a decision against multiple-time All-American Mike Evans (Iowa) and defaulted out of the tournament.
2013: Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon), fourth at 174
During the previous season, Gutches actually finished a bit higher. He defeated Ricky McDonald (Brown), Collin Zeerip (Michigan), Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State) and Scott Liegel (Wisconsin). However, he dropped a rematch against Zillmer in overtime in the third-place match.
2013: Chad Lowman (Grand View), eighth at 165
During the 2013 tournament, Lowman knocked off a pair Division I competitors, Ben Cox (Wisconsin) and Jud Ziegler (Princeton), to finish eighth. He finished his career at Grand View with a pair of NAIA national titles.
2012: Matt Meuleners (Northern State) seventh at 285/Eric Thompson (Grand View), eighth at 285
Meuleners won a pair of NCAA Division II titles for Northern State. Also during his time there, he took home a seventh-place finish at the Midlands. He reached the quarterfinals with a victory over Ben Appland (Michigan) but lost in the next round. In the seventh-place match, he defeated Thompson. The Grand View wrestler ended up being a three-time NAIA champion and was the 2012 NAIA Wrestler of the Year.