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Grand View looking to repeat as NAIA Championships are set to begin



DES MOINES, Iowa - The 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships open action Friday at 10 a.m. CST at the Jacobson Exhibition Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

The 56th annual event is a two-day competition that features four sessions of action with the championship matches scheduled to start at 7 p.m. CST on Saturday. Official brackets for the 10 weight classes will be posted on www.NAIA.org Thursday by 9 p.m. CST.

The state of Iowa welcomes 210 qualifiers representing 37 programs from across the United States, including 33 returning 2012 All-Americans. Of the qualifiers, 65 are sophomores, 60 are juniors, 47 are seniors and 38 are freshman. Each weight class boasts at least one returning All-American with the 125-pound event showcasing a national championships-high six All-Americans.

Four 2012 national champions will be in action, including two-time winner Mitchell Lofstedt (125) of Southern Oregon, who claimed the NAIA's top-prize in 2012 and 2010. Lofstedt, the 2012 Gorriaran Award winner, enters the 2013 championships with a 29-1 overall record, including an 11-0 mark against NAIA opponents. His lone loss this season came against Brenan Lyon of NCAA Division I Michigan State, 8-4, on Dec. 16. With a title, Lofstedt would become the 25th individual in 56 years to win at-least three national titles and first 125-pounder to accomplish the feat. Dickinson State's (N.D.) Justin Schlecht, who won championships in 2006, 2007 and 2008 at 197 pounds, is the NAIA's most recent three-time champion.

Rounding out the group of returning champions is Brock Gutches (174) of Southern Oregon, Midland's (Neb.) Jahsua Marsh (184) and Eric Thompson (heavyweight) of Grand View (Iowa). Marsh captured the 197-pound championship in 2012, but has slimmed down to 184 pounds for 2013.

Grand View enters the championships vying to become the 13th program to claim multiple NAIA Wrestling National Championships team titles. The Vikings, who have been ranked No. 1 in the NAIA Wrestling Coaches' Top 20 Poll for seven-straight weeks, earned the 2012 crown with 172 points - 31 more than second-place Southern Oregon. Grand View had six of its 11 qualifiers capture individual crowns at the Central Group Qualifying Tournament. The Vikings finished the 2013 regular-season 15-0 in dual matches.

West Qualifying Group champion Great Falls (Mont.) brings the largest team to Des Moines with 12 individuals, led by top-ranked 149-pounder Mike Vassar and three-time All-American Myles Mazurkiewicz (141). Mazurkiewicz finished sixth at last year's national championships. His best finish came in during the 2010 campaign when he took second at 133 pounds.

Seven other programs had double-digit individuals qualify - Grand View (11), Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) (11), Missouri Baptist (11), Southern Oregon (11), Campbellsville (Ky.) (10), Midland (10) and Morningside (Iowa) (10).

There have been 19 programs to previously take home the team title. Former NAIA-members Adams State (Colo.) and Central State (Okla.) took home eight, the most in the events 56-year history. Of the current NAIA institutions, Montana State-Northern leads the way with six national championships, with its last coming in 2004.

Individually, 110 programs have had an individual finish atop the podium. Former NAIA-member Simon Fraser's (B.C.) 40 individual winners ranks first, while Montana State-Northern is second with 30. Eighteen of the 37 teams in the 2013 national championships have never had an individual earn top-honors.

Automatic individual qualification for the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships was achieved by a top-four finish at one of the Qualifying Group Tournaments. At-large selections were determined by the total number of participants entered into all qualifying groups. A percentage of the total participants per qualifying group by dividing the number of entries per grouping by the overall total was established to insure that the 50 at-large places were allocated appropriately across the four groups. At the conclusion of the national qualifying tournaments, there was a selection committee meeting amongst the participating coaches in each group to determine the at-large bids.

NeuLion, the NAIA's official video streaming company of 12 select NAIA National Championship events, will be broadcasting the title bouts (Session IV) of the 2013 NAIA Wrestling National Championships. Packages can be purchased for $9.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

Brackets and results of the event can be found at TrackWrestling.com. The official brackets for this event can also be viewed here.

For additional national championships information, including event schedule, tickets and DVD orders, click here.
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