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|No. 1 Nebraska-Omaha stampedes to another Division II national championship|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Nebraska-Omaha's George Ivanov advanced to the finals at 157 pounds. Grant Wyatt Schultz photo.
OMAHA, Neb. - Even an error that shorted them 21 points in the team scoring couldn't stop the top-ranked Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks from steamrolling to another championship.
UNO placed five wrestlers in the finals as it clinched its fifth NCAA Division II title in the past seven years on Saturday at Nebraska-Omaha's Sapp Fieldhouse.
The Mavericks enter Saturday night's finals with a whopping 121 points. Nebraska-Kearney and Upper Iowa are tied for second with 63 points apiece. Augustana is fourth with 62 points. Upper Iowa and Augustana each have two finalists, and Kearney has one.
UNO senior Cody Garcia (133 pounds) will wrestle for his third national title on Saturday night. The finals are set for 8 p.m. Saturday.
"We're all a tight-knit family on this team," said UNO's Esai Dominguez, who reached the finals at 149. "It's been a great experience being a part of this team. We're very close and we all push each other."
The Mavericks were credited with 57 team points after placing seven wrestlers in the semifinals on Friday. But each semifinalist should have been credited with three more points, meaning they should have had 78.
Either way, the Mavs rolled to their second straight national title. They built a 58-point lead entering the finals.
25-year-old Upper Iowa senior Tyler Mumbulo delivered an early stunner Saturday morning. Mumbulo rallied in the final seconds to knock off returning champion and top-ranked Arsenia Barksdale of Adams State 9-4 in the 125 semifinals.
Barksdale led 4-3, but he was hit for a stalling call with 12 seconds left to tie the match. Mumbulo, thinking he was behind 4-3, then launched Barksdale to his back with a lateral drop for a five-point move in a shocking 9-4 win.
"It was 4-4? I thought it was 4-3," Mumbulo said when informed by a reporter of the score late in the bout. "I thought I needed points. I just kept attacking and I knew he was tired. I just kept going. That's the name of the game, to wrestle seven minutes.
"I'm 25 years old, and I didn't want to wrestle three more times to get third place."
Upper Iowa brought only six wrestlers, but will have its highest finish ever in its short time since moving to from Division III to Division II. The Peacocks' previous highest finish was eighth in 2007. Upper Iowa's first year of competition in Division II was the 2005-06 season.
Upper Iowa went 8-0 in that session.
"On the way over here, we talked about firsts and thirds," Upper Iowa coach Heath Grimm told the Waterloo Courier. "We wanted to go 8-0 and we went 8-0. Now we want to win two more. I'm extremely proud of these guys."
Returning champion Josh Shields of Mercyhurst reached the finals at 165. Shields will face Travis Eggers of Upper Iowa in the title bout. Eggers placed second at 157 last year.
The two returning finalists at 197 both dropped tight matches in the semifinals.
Returning national champion Keeno Griffin of Newberry fell 2-0 to Western State's Donovan McMahill in one semifinal at 197. Returning runner-up Jacob Marrs of UNO lost 4-3 to Ty Copsey of Augustana.
Copsey had previously placed fourth and seventh in this event.
"It's about damn time - it's been a long time coming," said Copsey, who grew up just across the river from Omaha in Glenwood, Iowa. "It's going to be the moment of a lifetime wrestling in the finals. It will be amazing."
Marrs rebounded to beat Griffin in the third-place match.
Minnesota State Mankato's Brady Wilson edged Central Oklahoma's Dustin Finn in the semifinals at 285. Finn had placed second in this event the past two seasons. Finn came back to take third.
Nebraska-Omaha's Esai Dominguez
Nebraska-Kearney's Marty Usman
Augustana's Ty Copsey
Upper Iowa's Tyler Mumbulo
SATURDAY NIGHT'S FINALS MATCHUPS
Seth Wright (New Mexico Highlands) vs. Tyler Mumbulo (Upper Iowa)
Shane Valko (Pitt-Johnstown) vs. Cody Garcia (Nebraska-Omaha)
Jay Sherer (Augustana) vs. Mario Morgan (Nebraska-Omaha)
Craig Becker (Wisconsin-Parkside) vs. Esai Dominguez (Nebraska-Omaha)
George Ivanov (Nebraska-Omaha) vs. Jonathan Jackson (Anderson College)
Josh Shields (Mercyhurst) vs. Travis Eggers (Upper Iowa)
Luke Rynish (Wisconsin-Parkside) vs. Kamarudeen Usman (Nebraska-Kearney)
Shane Mallory (East Stroudsburg) vs. Bryant Blanton (Newberry)
Donovan McMahill (Western State) vs. Ty Copsey (Augustana)
Elijah Madison (Nebraska-Omaha) vs. Brady Wilson (Minnesota State-Mankato)