Grand View's Ty Knowler knocked off top-ranked Joe Sievert of Morningside in Friday morning's quarterfinals at 174 pounds. (Tim Tushla Photo)
UPDATED: Grand View maintains lead at NAIA Championships, puts six into Friday's semifinals
As the mats lay silent after the third session of the 2012 NAIA Wrestling Championships at Jacobson Exhibition Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, Grand View, Southern Oregon, Campbellsville and Great Falls had to feel good about where they stood.
Grand View, leaders since the middle of the second session on Thursday, extended its lead to 10 points over second-place Southern Oregon and 11 points over third-place Campbellsville.
The Vikings pushed six of their nine quarterfinalists into Friday night's fourth session. Southern Oregon and Campbellsville each have five, while Great Falls and Oklahoma City have four wrestlers in the semis each.
Grand View coach Nick Mitchell has been feeling the pressure for weeks leading up to the event, hosted four miles away from campus.
"The pressure started a month ago when everybody started talking about the tournament and us being favorites" said Mitchell. "For me, the pressure is different than the pressure from the guys because I don't have any control over what's going on out there. These guys have control of it."
Two clutch performances kept Grand View in the lead as 174-pounder Ty Knowler and 197-pounder Derek Nightser upended top-ranked wrestlers in the quarterfinals to move on.
Knowler beat Morningside's Joe Sievert 7-2, leading from start to finish, while Nightser scored a takedown on Campbellsville's Jamelle Jones in the final seconds to steal away a 4-3 victory.
"If the match is close, (Nightser) is always in the match" said Mitchell. "That guy can score, he's really offensive and he had an opening there and took advantage of it. It was exciting.
"They both won matches they weren't supposed to win and at the national tournament, you have to do that.
"Not too many people come into the tournament the first-ranked guy and if you're going to win the tournament, most of the time, you have to beat somebody you're not supposed to."
For Grand View to maintain its lead, the semifinalists are important, but so are the five remaining wrestlers in the consolations.
"We got to win some of those matches in the semis obviously, but it's the backside." said Mitchell. "That's where it's going to make a difference. We have five guys on the backside now and we need all those guys to get through into the All-American round and if we lose anyone in that semifinal round, they have to come back and get third. That's going to be the difference."
Franky James' Campbellsville Tigers are on the heels of Southern Oregon and lead fourth-place Great Falls by 3.5. He agrees with Mitchell on the importance of the consolations.
"We told these guys from day one these tournaments are won on the backside" said James. "The team that's going to win the tournament is the team that's going to put 3-4 into the finals and have those other guys wrestle back."
Individually, two national champions are still in the mix as Southern Oregon's Mitchell Lofstedt powered into the semifinals at 125 pounds with a fall over Dickinson State's Bryden Lazaro. Lofstedt is looking for his third NAIA championship.
Great Falls' Anthony Varnell will have a familiar foe in his semifinal - his teammate Myle Mazurkewicz. Varnell, the defending champion at 141 pounds, bested Baker's Joel Olivas 6-4, while Mazurkewicz edged Grand View's Gustavo Martinez 5-3.
Returning 184-pound champion Evan Hinebauch of Montana State-Northern was upended in the quartefinals, falling to Campbellsville's Allen Scruggs in the second tiebreaker.
Along with Knowler and Nightser, Grand View saw Omi Acosta (133), T.J. Moen (149), Brad Lower (165) and Eric Thompson (285) all move into the semifinals. Acosta pinned Indiana Tech's Travis Baroquillo in 20 seconds, while Lower and Thompson scored bonus wins.
Oklahoma City has four semifinalists, with three coming in a row from 157-174. Nik Turner (157), Kevin Hardy (165) and Derek Peperas (174) went back-to-back-to-back with victories, with Turner and Hardy each scoring major decisions.
Southern Oregon's semifinalists are Lofsted, Jimmy Eggemeyer (149), Brock Gutches (174), and both 184-pounders, Derrick Rottenberg and Austin Vanderford.
Campbellsville pushed Tim Thurston (133), Chris Teague (141), Conor Young (157), Scruggs and Spencer Adams (197) into the semis.
Great Falls has Danny Luttrell (125), Varnell, Mazurkiewicz and Kamron Jackson (197).
"It's going to be hard to beat Grand View" said James. "It looks like a three team race, but we know it's going to be hard to beat them. Southern Oregon and Campbellsville are still in there, it's going to be interesting."
55th NAIA CHAMPIONSHIPS
JACOBSON EXHIBITION CENTER
IOWA STATE FAIRGROUNDS
DES MOINES, IOWA
Danny Luttrell (Great Falls) vs. Kory Kistner (Morningside)
Deteoreious Prayther (Missouri Baptist) vs. Mitchell Lofstedt (Southern Oregon)
Tim Thurston (Campbellsville) vs. Omi Acosta (Grand View)
Nathan Galloway (Shorter) vs. Keith Klink (Lindsey Wilson)
Chris Teague (Campbellsville) vs. Anthony Weerheim (Montana State-Northern)
Anthony Varnell (Great Falls) vs. Myles Mazurkiewicz (Great Falls)
Shay Shive (Missouri Valley) vs. Jimmy Eggemeyer (Southern Oregon)
T.J. Moen (Grand View) vs. Eric Burgey (William Penn)
Conor Young (Campbellsville) vs. Nik Turner (Oklahoma City)
Jeremy Pailla (Waldorf) vs. Charlie Pingleton (Lindsey Wilson)
Ethan Hinebauch (Montana State-Northern) vs. Kevin Hardy (Oklahoma City)
Pat Nord (Jamestown) vs. Brad Lower (Grand View)
Joseph Stephens (Lindsey Wilson) vs. Ty Knowler (Grand View)
Derek Peperas (Oklahoma City) vs. Brock Gutches (Southern Oregon)
Allen Scruggs (Campbellsville) vs. Derrick Rottenberg (Southern Oregon)
Austin Vanderford (Southern Oregon) vs. Weston Keleher (Missouri Baptist)
Derek Nightser (Grand View) vs. Kamron Jackson (Great Falls)
Joshua Marsh (Midland) vs. Spencer Adams (Campbellsville)
Brandon Gebhardt (Baker) vs. Andrew Ewers (Shorter)
Eric Thompson (Grand View) vs. Mike Brown (Oklahoma City)