Life University won the NWCA National Duals in both the men's and women's NAIA division.
National Wrestling Coaches Association

Life University won the NWCA National Duals in both the men's and women's NAIA division.

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Life doubles up and makes history; Central Oklahoma, Wartburg, Iowa, Bellarmine come away from Cedar Falls as team champions

by Jason Bryant, NWCA

Cedar Falls, Iowa – The first National Duals kicked off back in the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia back in 1989 and featured just 16 Division I programs.
 
When action concluded on Saturday evening in the UNI-Dome on the campus of Northern Iowa, 93 teams across six different divisions did battle and six came away with team championships, including two first-time winners at the NWCA/USMC Multi-Division National Dual Meet Championships presented by A Better Way Athletics, Capital Construction and Defense Soap hosted by NUWAY.
 
Life University became the first school to claim championships in two divisions in the same year as the top-seeded Running Eagles defeated second-seeded Menlo 25-21 to win the NAIA women's division, while the men's team upended 11-time champion and top-seeded Grand View 24-17 to claim its first NAIA men's championship.
 
In the process, Life broke Grand View's stranglehold on the National Duals title and snapped the Vikings 162-match dual meet win streak over NAIA opponents that dates back to January 2011 – more than 4,730 days ago. The women's championship was school's second NAIA women's title in three years.
 
"It shows when an administration is dedicated to a sport, the sport can do anything," said Life women's coach Ashley Flavin, speaking highly of the school's athletics director Jayme Pendergast. "She was probably biting her fingernails off watching it all unfold."
 
"It's a testament to Life University's athletic department," said Life men's assistant coach Cole Manion, who was thrust into the primary coaching role this weekend as head coach Omi Acosta didn't make the trip as his family is expecting another child at any moment. "(Jayme) has been nothing but supportive and it just shows we're doing the right things."

The championship on the NAIA men's side of things was the first for Life in school history, which finished second in four previous finals appearances – losing all of them to Grand View.
 
Things didn't start off peachy for Marietta, Georgia-based Life University as Grand Views started strong at 125 with Aden Reeves scoring a major decision over two-time national champion Brandon Orum at 125 pounds. Life got one back immediately as Thaddeus Long upended fifth-ranked Jackson Cockrell of Grand View in a dominant manner, earning a 19-3 technical fall. Life pulled ahead after winning four of the next five bouts with victories from top-ranked returning champion Brevin Balmeceda at 157 pounds and top-ranked Riley Smucker at 174.
 
The big momentum-shifter though came at 165 when Jaden New's threw Jovon Mitchell with a headlock to get a first-period fall. No. 10 Demarco Lee of Life upset top-ranked returning national champion Owen Braunghart 4-2 at 197 pounds to cement the dual victory.

Life's women fell behind early as Menlo won three of the first four weights, including upset victories by No. 10 Kayla McKinley-Johnson at 101 and Ayayzee Zaballos at 116 pounds. Life went on a dominant run in the middle weights, winning four straight from 130-155 pounds with back-to-back falls coming from second-ranked 130-pounder Sarah Savidge and ninth-ranked Zaynah McBryde at 136 pounds. Top-ranked Jamilah McBryde also picked up a technical fall at 143 pounds. Second-ranked Latifah McBryde iced the victory with an 8-1 victory over third-ranked Shannon Workinger at 155 pounds.
 
While Life was claiming the women's title in the early afternoon in the NAIA women's division, the NCAA women's final came down to the very end with second-seeded Iowa winning the championship in a tight 21-20 dual over top-seeded North Central. The Hawkeyes are in the program's first year of full varsity competition.
 
"Every point mattered," said Iowa head coach Clarissa Chun. "North Central is a tough team and great competitors."
 
North Central won six of the 10 bouts, but it was crucial shutouts and bonus victories and with "the little things" that gave the Hawkeyes enough juice to get past the Cardinals, who were bolstered by the addition of three-time national champion Yelena Makoyed and All-American Jaslynn Gallegos back to the line-up as well as the dual debut of past national champion Alara Boyd, who transferred from McKendree.
 
Right off the bat, second-ranked Sterling Dias gave the Hawkeyes a quick 4-0 lead with an 11-0 technical fall over fourth-ranked and returning national champion Maddie Avlia at 101 pounds. With freestyle dual meet scoring, wrestlers can score a team point if they score a match point during a bout (and the match doesn't end by fall). Dias' shutout kept North Central off the board and is one of those "little things" that made a difference in the end. A late caution point was the deciding factor as Iowa's second-ranked Ava Bayless upended Gallegos 5-5 on criteria.
 
North Central's momentum shifted as second-ranked Sydney Petzinger picked off third-ranked Brianna Gonzalez at 116 pounds, immediately followed by top-ranked Amani Jones' resounding 12-3 victory over second-ranked and past national champion Felicity Taylor at 123 pounds.
 
After two more North Central wins at 130 and 136, Boyd's entrance into the lineup kept the Cardinals moving as she beat top-ranked Reese Laramendy 9-4 at 143 pounds. Iowa would snatch the momentum back as top-ranked Marlynne Deede pinned fourth-ranked London Houston at 155 to give the Hawkeyes five big points and keep North Central off the board again.
 
In what amounted to a senior-level prize fight of sorts, past Junior world champion and No. 1-ranked Kylie Welker prevailed over Makoyed 11-3, who's made four national finals during her college career, winning three of them.
 
Trailing in the team score 20-17 and needing to score a technical fall, pin or shutout of any sort, second-ranked Treah Haynes led Iowa's Jaycee Foeller 2-0 with just over 90 seconds left in the bout when Haynes was hit with her second passivity warning of the match. Haynes was unable to score in the 30-second activity period, giving Foeller a point, a crucial one at that. Haynes was unable to get the tech and eventually won 6-1, but the Foeller point gave Iowa one team point and the Hawkeyes would win a spirited dual that captured the attention of the wrestling fans in Cedar Falls. North Central finished second for the second straight year.

While two squads were celebrating titles for the first time, Central Oklahoma, Wartburg and Bellarmine were getting used to their winning ways, especially Wartburg, which won a record 13th National Duals title by beating top-seeded rival Augsburg 21-19. The championship is the first for the Knights since 2020 and it was also the 13th time "The Burgs" have meet in the Division III men's final.
 
"This event is a big deal to us, it's a big deal to everybody," said Wartburg head coach Eric Keller. "This was a goal. That's the thing about this event. Usually we're on a bus for 10 hours and that's all I do for 10 hours is think about each individual guy and what we can do to get better. This is special for them – and this is something about how I told (the team) about how it used to be when it was (at the UNI-Dome), so I'm really excited they got to experience that. That's special."
 
Wartburg jumped out to a quick 11-0 lead after wins by Brett Birchman, Joe Pins and Kyler Romero at the first three weights. Romero defeated returning national champion Sam Stuhl, who came in ranked eighth at 141 pounds. The two squads alternated wins back-and-forth, including two Augsburg pins, but ranked wins from national champions Zane Mulder at 174 and Massoma "Mo" Endene at 197 pounds were enough for the Knights to keep the Auggies away. Mulder beat third-ranked All-American Seth Goetzinger 7-2, while Endene's 13-3 major over second-ranked Parker Venz cemented Wartburg's 13th championship.

In the Division II men's championship, top-seeded Central Oklahoma jumped all over unseeded Augustana and cruised to a 37-3 win to claim the Bronchos third national duals crown and second in the past three seasons.
 
The tone was set in the first four matches as UCO's Guy Clevenger edged top-ranked returning national finalist Jaxson Rohman 1-0 at 125 pounds and then back-to-back first-period falls from Shaun Muse and second-ranked Dylan Lucas had the Bronchos riding high early. Dylan Brown beat Augustana's 10th-ranked Cael Larson to take most of the wind out of upstart Augustana's sails. The Vikings reached the finals after upsetting third-seeded Lander 17-16 in the semifinals.
 
Central Oklahoma would win the first seven bouts, highlighted by Gabe Johnson's technical fall at 157 pounds before Augustana's seventh-ranked Cade Mueller beat third-ranked Garrett Wells 5-3 at 184 pounds. UCO closed with a pair of returning national champions earning wins.
 
Dalton Abney beat Max Ramberg 8-3 at 197 pounds while Shawn Streck's return to the lineup this weekend was perfect as he closed out a perfect weekend by tech falling Max Balow 19-4. Streck had three technical falls and a major decision on the weekend. UCO reached the finals after avenging last year's finals loss to fifth-seeded St. Cloud State 24-10.

Bellarmine, which is still in the midst of its transition from NCAA Division II to Division I, went 6-0 to claim its second NCWA Men's division championship. The Knights closed out a perfect weekend with a 49-6 over the Apprentice School, a trade school owned by Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia with a varsity wrestling program.
 
Liberty finished second, going 5-1. Apprentice finished third.

Full Brackets and Results
Division II, Division III, NAIA Men's Divisions
NCWA Men's Division
NCAA & NAIA Women's Divisions
 
DIVISION II MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
#1 CENTRAL OKLAHOMA 37, AUGUSTANA (S.D.) 3
125 - Guy Clevenger (Central Oklahoma) DEC Jaxson Rohman (Augustana) 1-0
133 - Shaun Muse (Central Oklahoma) FALL Jack Huffman (Augustana) 0:33
141 - Dylan Lucas (Central Oklahoma) FALL John Babineau (Augustana) 0:52
149 - Dylan Brown (Central Oklahoma) DEC Cael Larson (Augustana) 4-3
157 - Gabe Johnson (Central Oklahoma) TF Connor Simmonds (Augustana) 16-1
165 - Hunter Jump (Central Oklahoma) DEC Payton Anderson (Augustana) 8-2
174 - Anthony Des Vigne (Central Oklahoma) DEC Coy Gunderson (Augustana) 8-1
184 - Cade Mueller (Augustana) DEC Garrett Wells (Central Oklahoma) 5-3
197 - Dalton Abney (Central Oklahoma) DEC Max Ramberg (Augustana) 8-3
285 - Shawn Streck (Central Oklahoma) TF Max Balow (Augustana) 19-4
 
DIVISION III MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
#2 WARTBURG 21, #1 AUGSBURG 19
125 - Brett Birchman (Wartburg) DEC Austin Laudenbach (Augsburg) 8-3
133 - Joe Pins (Wartburg) TF Wyatt Kaczrowski (Augsburg) 21-5
141 - Kyler Romero (Wartburg) DEC Sam Stuhl (Augsburg) 11-4
149 - Charlie Stuhl (Augsburg) DEC Charlie Dojan (Wartburg) 5-2, TB1
157 - Daniel Meeker (Wartburg) DEC Blake Jagodzinske (Augsburg) 7-2
165 - Cooper Willis (Augsburg) FALL Nathan Fuller (Wartburg) 2:50
174 - Zane Mulder (Wartburg) DEC Seth Goetzinger (Augsburg) 7-2
184 - Bentley Schwanebeck-Ostermann (Augsburg) MD Kasey Ross (Wartburg) 14-3
197 - Massoma Endene (Wartburg) MD Parker Venz (Augsburg) 13-3
285 - Tyler Kim (Augsburg) FALL Darius Mynar (Wartburg) 2:15
 
NAIA MEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
#2 LIFE 24, #1 GRAND VIEW 17
125 - Aden Reeves (Grand View) MD Brandon Orum (Life) 13-4
133 - Thaddeus Long (Life) TF Jackson Cockrell (Grand View) 19-3
141 - Tyree Johnson (Life) DEC Tony Mendoza (Grand View) 4-0
149 - Blake Gonzalez (Grand View) MD Reese Jones (Life) 13-3
157 - Brevin Balmeceda (Life) MD Dylan Whitt (Grand View) 9-0
165 - Jaden New (Life) FALL Jovon Mitchell (Grand View) 1:30
174 - Riley Smucker (Life) DEC Alex Reynolds (Grand View) 5-1
184 - Isaiah Luellen (Grand View) DEC Kyle Homet (Life) 8-6
197 - Demarco Lee (Life) DEC Owen Braungardt (Grand View) 4-2
285 - Greg Hagan (Grand View) FALL Cohle Feliciano (Life) 0:22
 
NCWA MEN'S ROUND FIVE
#1 BELLARMINE 49, #2 APPRENTICE SCHOOL 6
125 - Damion Ryan (Bellarmine) FALL Caleb Olgers (Apprentice School) Fall 4:13
133 - Trayce Eckman (Bellarmine) MD Dillon Messick (Apprentice School) Maj 17-6
141 - Jordan Robins (Apprentice School) won by forfeit.
149 - Zac Cowan (Bellarmine) FALL Bruno Alves (Apprentice School) Fall 4:03
157 - Gray Ortis (Bellarmine) MD David Norris (Apprentice School) Maj 20-9
165 - Grant O`Dell (Bellarmine) TF Landon Kissell (Apprentice School) TF 17-2
174 - Cole Nance (Bellarmine) DEC Josh Seaton (Apprentice School) Dec 11-7
184 - Sam Schroeder (Bellarmine) FALL Owen Schuller (Apprentice School) Fall 1:37
197 - Kalob Johnstone (Bellarmine) FALL Matthew Henson (Apprentice School) Fall 0:51
235 - Thadd Huff (Bellarmine) won by forfeit.
285 - William Muckler (Bellarmine) FALL Dustin Uribes (Apprentice School) Dec 7-2
 
NCAA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
#2 IOWA 21, #1 NORTH CENTRAL 20
101 - Sterling Dias (Iowa) TF Madison Avila (North Central) 11-0
109 - Ava Bayless (Iowa) DEC Jaslynn Gallegos (North Central) 5-5, crit.
116 - Sydney Petzinger (North Central) DEC Brianna Gonzalez (Iowa) 6-4
123 - Amani Jones (North Central) DEC Felicity Taylor (Iowa) 12-3
130 - Salome Walker (North Central) DEC Emily Frost (Iowa) 8-2
136 - Yele Aycock (North Central) DEC Lilly Luft (Iowa) 6-2
143 - Alara Boyd (North Central) DEC Reese Larramendy (Iowa) 9-4
155 - Marlynne Deede (Iowa) FALL London Houston (North Central) 1:38
170 - Kylie Welker (Iowa) DEC Yelena Makoyed (North Central) 11-3
191 - Traeh Haynes (North Central) DEC Jaycee Foeller (Iowa) 6-1
 
NAIA WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
#1 LIFE 25, #2 MENLO 21
101 - Kayla McKinley-Johnson (Menlo) DEC Devyn Gomez (Life) 4-1
109 - Diana Gonzalez (Life) FALL Angelique Cervantes (Menlo) 0:37
116 - Ajayzee Zaballos (Menlo) DEC Ariana Martinez (Life) 6-4
123 - Alana Vivas (Menlo) FALL Sophie Sarver (Life) 1:00
130 - Sarah Savidge (Life) FALL Louisa Schwab (Menlo) Fall 2:11
136 - Zaynah McBryde (Life) FALL Stephanie Chavez (Menlo) 2:32
143 - Jamilah McBryde (Life) TF Desiree Jones (Menlo) 11-1
155 - Latifah McBryde (Life) DEC Shannon Workinger (Menlo) 8-1
170 - Kalila Shrive (Menlo) DEC Margaret Graham (Life) 10-2
191 - Tavia Heidelberg-Tillotson (Menlo) FALL Madeline Welch (Life) 1:33

Final Team Placements
NCAA Division II Men
1st Place - Central Oklahoma
2nd Place - Augustana (SD)
3rd Place - St. Cloud State
4th Place - Lander
5th Place - Nebraska-Kearney
6th Place - UMary
7th Place - McKendree
8th Place - Upper Iowa
 
1st Place Match
Central Oklahoma defeated Augustana (SD) 37-3.
3rd Place Match
St. Cloud State defeated Lander 24-16.
5th Place Match
Nebraska-Kearney defeated UMary 24-13.
7th Place Match
McKendree defeated Upper Iowa 35-9.
 
NCAA Division III Men
1st Place - Wartburg
2nd Place - Augsburg
3rd Place - Wisconsin-La Crosse
4th Place - North Central
5th Place - Coe
6th Place - Johnson & Wales
7th Place - Vermont State University Castleton
8th Place - Wisconsin-Whitewater
 
1st Place Match
Wartburg defeated Augsburg 21-19.
3rd Place Match
Wisconsin-La Crosse defeated North Central 22-15.
5th Place Match
Coe defeated Johnson & Wales (RI) 33-10.
7th Place Match
VTSU defeated Wisconsin-Whitewater 35-4.
 
NAIA Men
 1st Place - Life
2nd Place - Grand View
3rd Place - Menlo
4th Place - Southeastern
5th Place - Campbellsville
6th Place - Southern Oregon
7th Place - U. of the Cumberlands
8th Place - Indiana Tech
 
1st Place Match
Life University defeated Grand View (Iowa) 24-17.
3rd Place Match
Menlo (Calif.) defeated Southeastern 25-17.
5th Place Match
Campbellsville (Ky.) defeated Southern Oregon 21-13.
7th Place Match
Cumberlands (Ky.) defeated Indiana Tech 26-13.
 
NCAA Women
1st Place - Iowa
2nd Place - North Central
3rd Place - McKendree
4th Place - King
5th Place - Sacred Heart
6th Place - Lindenwood
7th Place - Presbyterian
8th Place - Colorado Mesa
 
1st Place Match
Iowa defeated North Central College 21-20.
3rd Place Match
McKendree University defeated King University 29-16.
5th Place Match
Sacred Heart defeated Lindenwood 27-19.
7th Place Match
Presbyterian defeated Colorado Mesa University 28-19.
 
NAIA Women
1st Place - Life
2nd Place - Menlo
3rd Place - Texas Wesleyan
4th Place - Providence (Mont.)
5th Place - Southern Oregon
6th Place - Grand View
7th Place - Missouri Baptist
8th Place - U. of the Cumberlands
 
1st Place Match
Life University defeated Menlo College 25-21.
3rd Place Match
Texas Wesleyan defeated University of Providence 39-10.
5th Place Match
Southern Oregon University defeated Grand View 24-16.
7th Place Match
Missouri Baptist University defeated University of the Cumberlands 25-21.
 
NCWA Men
1st Place - Bellarmine
2nd Place - Liberty
3rd Place - Apprentice School
4th Place - Washington State
5th Place - Central Florida
6th Place - Dubuque WC
7th Place - Colorado State

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