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No. 1 Nebraska-Omaha off to blazing start at NCAA Division II Championships



UNO's George Ivanov battles Grand Canyon's Stephen Towne in the first round. Tim Tushla photo.

OMAHA, Neb. - It was a perfect 10 for top-ranked Nebraska-Omaha to start the NCAA Division II Championships.

All 10 UNO wrestlers won their first matches, including six that scored bonus points, on Friday at Nebraska-Omaha's Sapp Fieldhouse.

The Mavericks are looking to repeat as national team champions. UNO is seeking its fifth title in seven years, and sixth overall in Division II, under Hall of Fame coach Mike Denney.

UNO compiled 20 points in the first session. St. Cloud State is in second with 12 points and five wrestlers in the quarterfinals. Upper Iowa is in third place with nine points and five in the quarters.

The Mavericks were led in the first session by two-time NCAA champion Cody Garcia, who won by fall at 133 pounds. NCAA runner-up Austin Boehm won by fall at 184 while NCAA runner-ups Aaron Denson (174) and Jacob Marrs (197) won by major decision.

The quarterfinals are set for 6 p.m. on Friday. The two-day event continues with the semifinals and finals on Saturday in Omaha.

In the featured bout of the first round, Newberry's Keeno Griffin held of Adams State's Kyle Sand 3-2. Both wrestlers were past national champions.

Griffin won nationals last year at 197 and Sand won it at 184.

Two of the top four ranked wrestlers at 149 fell in the first round. Second-ranked Mitch Smith of West Liberty State fell 3-1 to Newberry's Mitch Arnold while No. 4 Thomas Hepburn of Nebraska-Kearney was pinned by Minnesota State Mankato's Travis Elg.

Hepburn built a quick 4-1 lead before being headlocked and pinned by Elg, who was an All-American at 141 in 2008.

UNO is hosting the Division II nationals for the first time since it won the event here in 2005.
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