UNK Wrestling: Grand View Edges the Lopers
Kearney, Neb. – The Grand View (Ia.) University Vikings, the top-ranked team in the NAIA, used two rallies to get past fifth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney, 19-18, Saturday afternoon at the Health & Sports Center.
This dual was a rare opportunity to see two of the most successful non-Division I programs battle it out. The Vikings, from Des Moines, have won nine of the last 10 NAIA National Titles while the Lopers are a perennial NCAA Division II power with three National Titles to its credit.
"Duals never go how you write them down on paper, which is the beauty of the sport. It's a match where I thought we were capable of winning everyone, top to bottom. But we just didn't perform consistently enough and Grand View did," said Loper head coach Dalton Jensen. "They made the tough choice to go out and be the aggressor in some of those toss up matches or even the ones that favored us. Their dual win streak continues (112th win in a row) and we appreciate them coming over and wrestling us."
To start the day, seventh-ranked Carson Taylor (133 lbs.) fell behind 6-0 right off the bat as Lincoln senior Wesley Dawkins recorded a takedown and four-point near fall. However, Taylor came all the way back and racked up 12 third-period points to win, 13-8. He managed 1:22 of riding time in the second, finished with 1:27 and had his own four-point near fall.
At 184 pounds, 10th-ranked Austin Eldredge (McPherson, Kan.) bested top-ranked Ben Lee, 5-2, thanks to four first period points. That cut the GVU lead to 13-11 with senior Hayden Prince (Goose Creek, S.C.) jetting out to an 8-1 lead at 197 pounds. He tallied an early takedown and a four-point near fall but sixth-ranked Owen Braungardt used a reversal and then a fall with eight seconds left in the period to win and change momentum.
"In a dual meeting setting momentum is huge. Not just from one match to the next, based on the result, but even situation-to-situation in one match," said Jensen. "We let some of those individual momentum swings in matches not go our way. I have no doubt in my mind Wesley and Hayden are National Champion-caliber guys. There's time to get there … they need to find a way to be grittier and make tougher choices in matches."
Sixth-ranked heavyweight Lee Herrington dominated top-ranked Greg Hagan, 14-3, as he not only had a four-point near fall but also was awarded four penalty points. Finally, in the brother showdown everyone was waiting for, sixth-ranked Josh Portillo (Clarion, Ia.) bested second-ranked Justin Portillo, 12-10, in the first sudden victory period. The back-and-forth dual saw Justin forced extra time thanks to a last second escapes. Josh recorded an early takedown in OT to secure the win.
"It's tough for Josh to have to go out and wrestle his brother," said Jensen. "Austin is in a descent down to 174 … we're going to put him down (at that weight) and see what he can do. Kudos to Matt and Lee. They really want to go fight for this team and score as many points as they can."
UNK hosts the Midwest Duals next Friday and Saturday at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds.