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OCU Dominates AMC/SAC Conference Tournament

The Oklahoma City University (OCU) Stars dominated the joint conference tournament between the American Midwest Conference (AMC) and the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) hosted by Missouri Baptist University (MBU) in St. Louis Missouri on Saturday, February 17. Both the AMC and SAC only have five conference wrestling teams, so in an effort to give their wrestlers an opportunity to qualify for the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NAIA) national championship tournament, they joined together to host a joint conference championship, with the highest finishing team from each conference being crowned that conference’s champion for the year. The NAIA national tournament qualifying process is similar to NCAA’s division 1, where automatic qualifier bids are awarded to wrestlers at each weight class based on the number of ranked wrestlers in each weight class. The Stars automatically qualified a total of six wrestlers for the NAIA tournament in addition to running away with the SAC and overall tournament championship.

True freshman Braden Potts led the way for the Stars at 125 pounds. After a first round bye, the 2X Oklahoma state high school champion from Tuttle collected a first period pinfall victory that foreshadowed how dominant the Stars would be all day. In the semifinals, Potts scored a major decision victory, which the SAC freshman of the year duplicated in the finals to both win the conference championship and lock in his spot in the NAIA tournament.

The 133 pound weight class was by far the deepest weight class in the tournament, holding 4 automatic qualifier bids with 4 wrestlers ranked in the top 20 of the final NAIA rankings. OCU’s Cooper Mahaffey entered the tournament ranked number 25 in the NAIA poll, and fought hard to avoid upsets and qualify for the national tournament. After a bye in the first round, Mahaffey defeated MBU’s Daryl Mills in a tight 5-3 decision. In the championship semifinals, Mahaffey was defeated by the 7th ranked wrestler in the NAIA, and eventual conference champion Dominic Chavez. Mahaffey needed to bounce back in the consolation semifinals to put himself in position to qualify for the NAIA tournament, and he did so in a big way, earning a first period pinfall to make the consolation finals. After a tough match against another top 10 ranked wrestler, Mahaffey settled for 4th. Mills rallied back to finish 5th, so there was no need for a true 4th place match due to Mahaffey’s victory over Mills earlier in the day, giving Mahaffey his ticket to the NAIA tournament.

Caden Manion was dominant for the Stars throughout the day at 141 pounds. After a first round bye, the 6th ranked Manion picked up first period pinfalls in the quarter and semi final rounds to make the finals. In the championship match, the junior from Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Oklahoma scored a 15-0 technical fall victory with a set of near points as the first period expired to win the conference championship and punch his national championship ticket.

The 149 pound bracket was absolutely dominated by Stars. One of the interesting differences between NAIA and the NCAA is that NAIA teams can have multiple wrestlers in the same bracket of the conference tournament who can qualify for the NAIA national tournament. The Stars took advantage of this and had both Moses Torres and 10th ranked Drake Vannoy compete in the conference tournament at 149 pounds. Torres received a first round bye before scoring pinfall victories in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to make the tournament finals. Vannoy was one of two Stars that competed in a first round match, which he won with a first period pinfall.

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