CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (March 11) – There’s strength in numbers and Central Oklahoma certainly proved that old adage correct in breaking a long drought at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships Saturday at Alliant Energy Powerhouse.
The top-ranked Bronchos placed nine of their tournament-high 10 qualifiers in the top seven – pulling off eight upsets of higher-seeded individuals in the process — and that superior depth was more than enough to propel UCO to its first national title since 2007.
Central entered Saturday with a 6.5-point lead over No. 2 Lander, then used a strong performance in all-important consolation rounds to pull away from the field. The Bronchos finished 22-6 in the consolations, winning 12 of 13 during one stretch, and ended with 121 points.
No. 2 Lander was second with 78 points, followed by No. 3 St. Cloud State (64.5), No. 11 Western Colorado (61) and No. 5 Adams State (58). It was UCO’s 16th championship, including the eighth in Division II to tie the all-time record held by Nebraska-Omaha and Cal State-Bakersfield.
Dalton Abney (197 pounds) and Shawn Streck (heavyweight) claimed individual titles to lead UCO. The Bronchos also got third-place finishes from 133 Dylan Lucas, 141 Nate Keim and 165 Ty Lucas, while 184 Alex Kauffman took fifth, 149 Brik Filippo sixth and 157 Gabe Johnson and 174 Anthony DesVigne seventh.
“It’s long overdue,” said seventh-year head coach Todd Steidley. “Our guys have really, really worked hard and it hasn’t sunk in yet. We’re all so excited.
“I’m so proud of our guys and not just the 10 guys who wrestled here. It’s all the guys in our room, the UCO community, the booster club. It doesn’t just happen with 10 guys, it takes a team and a family and that’s what we preach and that’s what we are.”
The top-seeded Abney beat Indianapolis’ No. 2 Derek Blubaugh in the finals for the second straight year, with the only scoring coming on Abney’s third-period escape. Blubaugh came close to a takedown on the edge of the mat at the end of the first period, but he couldn’t penetrate Abney’s defense after that.
The junior standout finished the season 23-2 and is now 72-6 for his career. He became the 12th four-time All-American in school history and the 18th multiple national champion.
Abney also had a close call in the semifinals, pulling out a 4-2 overtime win over No. 4 Dominic Murphy of St. Cloud State on a takedown 20 seconds into the sudden-victory period to advance.
Streck overwhelmed Glenville State’s second-seeded Jared Campbell to polish off a dominating season. The top-seeded junior struck for takedowns in each period to go along with an escape and riding time point.
Streck, who missed the first month of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, finished 26-0 and is now 38-2 as a two-time All-American for the Bronchos.
Streck made the finals with a workmanlike 5-3 victory over Ouachita Baptist’s Johnny Green, scoring two first-period takedowns in beating the No. 4 seed for the third time this season.
Dylan and Ty Lucas became the ninth set of brothers to earn All-America honors for the Bronchos with their third-place finishes.
Dylan won three matches Saturday, all against higher seeds. The eighth seed, Dylan started with a 3-0 shutout of No. 4 Elijah Lusk of Lander, then edged No. 7 Vincent Scollo of West Liberty before cruising past No. 2 Eric Bartos of Mercyhurst 9-3 for the bronze medal.
Ty dropped a 6-2 decision in the semifinals before bouncing back with two hard-fought wins. The seventh-seeded senior clipped West Liberty’s Alec Cook 3-1 on a takedown with 30 seconds left in the sudden-victory period, then edged No. 4 Daniel Hunsberger of Lander 3-2 behind a second-period takedown to become a three-time All-American.
Keim went 3-0 on the day to join his dad (Mike) as the fourth pair of father-son All-Americans in program history.
The seventh-seeded senior opened with a 6-2 win, followed with a big 7-4 upset of No. 1 seed Zeth Brower of Lander and then pinned long-time nemesis Peter Kuster of Drury in the consolation finals. There was no score in the second period of that match when Keim grabbed Kuster’s head and arched back to get the rare defensive fall.
The unseeded Kauffman knocked off fifth-seeded Reece 6-4 on a takedown midway through the two-minute sudden-victory period in his first bout of the day before falling to the No. 2 seed. He earned a medical forfeit victory in the fifth-place match in becoming a two-time All-American.
Filippo rolled past Newberry’s Devan Moore 9-3 to start the day, then lost tough matches in the consolation semifinals and fifth-place match to finish sixth in earning All-America accolades for the second time.
Johnson and DesVigne both lost in the consolation quarterfinals to open the session before ending the tournament with wins in their seventh-place matches.
Johnson turned an early takedown into a fall at the 1:18 mark and DesVigne held on for a 5-3 victory.
UCO loses four seniors off the team — Keim, Filippo, T. Lucas and Kauffman.
NCAA DIVISION II WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
197 – Dalton Abney, UCO, dec. Derek Blubaugh, Indianapolis, 1-0.
Hvy – Shawn Streck, UCO, dec. Jared Campbell, Glenville, State, 8-2.
133 – Dylan Lucas, UCO, dec. Eric Bartos, Mercyhurst, 9-3.
141 – Nate Keim, UCO, pinned Peter Kuster, Drury, 4:18
165 – Ty Lucas, UCO, dec. Daniel Hunsberger, Lander, 3-2.
149 – Jacob Ealy Pittsburgh-Johnstown, dec. Brik Filippo, UCO, 9-6.
184 – Alex Kauffman, UCO, won by default over Billy Higgins, Nebraska-Kearney.
157 – Gabe Johnson, UCO, pinned Avery Shay, Shippensburg, 1:18.
174 – Anthony DesVigne, UCO, dec. Nate Barett, Ashland, 5-3.
165 – Chase Luensman, Upper Iowa, dec. Ty Lucas, UCO, 6-2.
197 – Dalton Abney, UCO, dec. Dominic Murphy, St. Cloud State, 4-2 (SV).
Hvy – Shawn Streck, UCO, dec. Johnny Green, Ouachita Baptist, 6-3
133 – Lucas, UCO, dec. Elijah Lusk, Lander, 3-0.
141 – Keim, UCO, dec. Jake Niffenegger, Mercyhurst, 6-2.
149 – Filippo, UCO, dec. Devan Moore, Newberry, 9-3.
157 – Noah Hermosillo, Adams State, dec. Johnson, UCO, 9-4.
174 – Max Bruss, Mary, pinned DesVigne, 3:31.
184 – Kauffman, UCO, dec. Reece Worachek, Wisconsin-Parkside, 6-4.
133 – Lucas, UCO, dec. Vincent Scollo, West Liberty, 5-2.
141 – Keim, UCO, dec. Zeth Brower, Lander, 7-4.
149 – Jalen Spuhler, Wisconsin-Parkside, dec. Filippo, UCO, 11-4.
165 – Lucas, UCO, dec. Alec Cook, West Liberty, 3-1 (SV).
184 – Daniel Beemer, Ashland, dec. Kauffman, UCO, 6-2.