WICHITA, Kan. – The second and final day of the 65th Annual NAIA Men’s Wrestling National Championships began with 80 athletes still chasing the dream of ending their season on the top of the podium. After the dust settled, Grand View (Iowa) once again reclaimed their throne winning their 10th championship in the last 11 years.
The Vikings led the way with three individual champions followed by Life (Ga.) and Indiana Tech with two. Southeastern (Fla.), Doane (Neb.) and Cumberland (Tenn.) each featured one first-place finisher.
125-pounds – No. 1 Esco Walker (Grand View) vs. No. 2 Brandon Orum (Life)
Walker, finished as the Runner-Up in 133-pound match in 2021 when he was sporting a Cumberland (Tenn.) singlet. Orum ended his campaign a year ago on top of the medal stand. All season long, the duo were fighting it out for the top ranking and tonight they settled it on the mat. Walker used his speed to secure a 4-3 victory.
133-pounds – No. 1 Connor Gimson (Indiana Tech) vs. No. 6 Jacob Seto (Embry-Riddle)
Gimson was the reigning champion and was intent on keeping ownership of the weight class for another year. With the score tied at one point each, he got a reversal on Seto to secure a 3-1 victory.
141-pounds – No. 1 Baterdene Boldmaa (Doane) vs. No. 11 Martin Wilkie (Montana State-Northern)
Boldmaa, known for his unique style of high scoring affairs, was tested early. Desiring to trade the two point takedown for a single point escape, he kept banging away and blew open a tied score in the second and third periods. His list of accomplishments keeps growing as Boldmaa is a three-time champion. Freshman Martin Wilkie claimed his first All-American recognition on his way to a Runner-Up finish.
149-pounds – No. 2 Denver Stonecheck (Life) vs. No. 8 Ryan Moore (Thomas More)
For the first time, a new champion was promised to be named. Stonecheck had fallen short in the finals the past two seasons in the weight class; Moore was the Runner-Up in 2021 in the 141 pound division. The third time was the charm for Stonecheck as he earned a 9-1 major decision victory.
157-pounds – No. 3 Jack Bass (Life) vs. No. 4 Israel Casarez (Grand View)
A hardfought battle could not be decided within the seven minutes allotted. Tied at 1-1, the contest went into the two-minute sudden victory phase where Israel Casarez quickly turned the tide and walked off the mat with hardware – much to the delight of the Viking faithful in attendance. Both Bass and Casarez were finalist for the first time.
165-pounds – No. 1 Cole Smith (Cumberland) vs. No. 3 Marty Margolis (Grand View)
Both wrestlers entered the final bout of the year with already improving on their 2021 performance. Smith placed third at 165 while Margolis trained last season down two weight classes, also finishing third. After falling behind 8-0, Smith never lost confidence and fought his way to a 8-3 count. Then, he went to work and recorded a Fall 4:08.
174-pounds – No. 2 Casey Randles (Grand View) vs. No. 4 Trenton Munoz (Hastings)
Munoz, who upset the top ranked wrestler in the weight class to secure a birth in the finals, had his magical run end at the hands of Randles who recorded a 4-2 decision. He will return back to Nebraska with his first All-American honor.
184-pounds – No. 1 Ben Lee (Grand View) vs. No. 2 Eric Vermillion (Indiana Tech)
After having the All-American battles go completely by seed, fans were in for a special treat as Lee and Vermillion went head-to-head. Vermillion is the reigning title holder, but it was Lee who spent the greater part of two seasons as the number one ranked wrestler in the class. The Warrior within Vermillion did not diminish as he was the second Indiana Tech athlete to get his second straight championship.
197-pounds – No. 1 Isaac Bartel (Montana State-Northern) vs. No. 3 Zane Lanham (Life)
Bartle entered the final match of his illustrious career being a five-time All-American, the top seed in the tournament, and the 2021 championship in his favor. What few expected was the Fall 6:17 by Lanham to give Bartel his third Runner-Up finish in five years.
285-pounds – No. 1 Greg Hagan (Grand View) vs. No. 7 Gage Braun (Southeastern)
The third and final upset of the evening came in one of the most dramatic of fashions. Hagan and Braun were tied 3-3 when the sea saw battle really picked up. As the two worked the ground game, the top seed held a 4-3 margin including the riding time favoring him. However, after being called for locking his hands together, Braun was awarded a point with under 10 seconds to go. With the score effectively tied 4-4, Braun managed to pull an escape right before the end of the third period to complete the upset. Once again, Hagan is the heavyweight second-place finisher.
Nick Mitchell of Grand View (Iowa) wins Coach of the Year.
Life University (Ga.) received wins Sportsmanship Award.
Baterdene Boldmaa of Doane (Neb.) named Wrestler of the Year and Outstanding Wrestler.
James Williams of Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) was selected as the Gorriaran award Winner. (3 PINS in 3:11)