Four Punch Tickets to Nationals
Marshall, Mo.–The Statesmen wrestling team will send four individuals to nationals after possibly posting its best day of the season at the NAIA Central Qualifying Group Tournament Saturday.
William Penn entered the event ranked seventh in the group, but eclipsed its rating by placing fifth with 70.5 points. #1 Grand View rolled to the title with 217 points and 12 qualifiers (the maximum for a team), while #3 Missouri Valley was a distant runner-up with 150 points.
GVU’s Nick Mitchell was named Coach of the Year and heavyweight Eric Thompson garnered the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler honor.
William Penn was easily the most productive at 133 pounds, earning two bids to the NAIA National Championships on March 7-8 in Topeka, Kan.
Scottie Bonds (Fr., Chicago, Ill., Physical Education), who was a team-best 5-1 (three falls), pulled off an upset over teammate Joao Vicente (So., East Providence, R.I., Secondary Education) to take third place.
Vicente (3-2 with one fall) had defeated Bonds 4-1 in the championship quarterfinals, but they then met again for third. In a match that meant little (both were already assured berths by being in the top four), Bonds bettered Vicente 3-1 for the bronze. Bonds will be making his first nationals appearance, while Vicente is now a two-time qualifier.
Ishmael Rempson (Jr., Olympia Heights, Ill., Industrial Technology) was also successful in his third-place match at 174 pounds. Rempson, who is making his second trip to nationals, owned a 4-1 record (one major decision).
141-pounder Brad Watson (So., Rolla, Mo., Physical Education) was a pleasant surprise as he finished fifth and collected an at-large berth for his first trip to nationals. At-large berths are awarded to each qualifying group with the number of berths dependent on the size of the tourney.
The sophomore was 4-2 with two falls and one major decision, and pinned Brian Bitney of Missouri Valley in the fifth-place match to even have the chance to collect a ‘wild card’.
Charlton Benjamin (Jr., Atlanta, Ga., Sociology) narrowly missed qualifying, going 3-3 for sixth place at 157 pounds.
Angelo Kelly (So., Ottumwa, Iowa, Physical Education) won twice at 149 pounds, while the trio of 141-pounder Lane Colwell (So., Knoxville, Iowa, Computer Science), 157-pounder Christian Padilla (Jr., Tampa, Fla., Secondary Education), and heavyweight Nathan Veverka (Sr., Montezuma, Iowa, Industrial Technology) all won once via fall. Joe Sumner (Sr., Delaware, Ohio, Physical Education) had his hand raised one time Saturday as well.