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Notre Dame wins NAIA National Duals Title
From Notre Dame College Sports Information
The Wrestling Falcons advanced to the Sunday-afternoon final with a 29-4 victory over Missouri Valley earlier in the day. The Blue & White then topped the Lindenwood Lions, 31-16, in the title match. With Sunday’s action in the books, Notre Dame has now gone 7-0, outscoring foes, 238-46, over the last two years at what is the nation’s preeminent mid-season event across all levels of collegiate wrestling. In dual competition, NDC is undefeated in 14 matches since losing to Ohio State early in the 2009-10 season (Nov. 22, 2009).
Late Sunday afternoon, top-ranked (NAIA Coaches’ Poll) Notre Dame (5-0) preserved that run with a thrilling victory over No. 7 Lindenwood. After losing four of the first five bouts of the match and falling behind, 19-4, a gritty Lions squad cut the NDC lead to three (19-16) with three straight wins, two of which came in hard-fought and low-scoring decisions. That trio of wins put senior Derek Foore, the top-ranked (Coaches’ Poll) grappler at 197 pounds, on the spot.
And Foore delivered in a big way. With his third pin of the tournament, Foore downed Ryan Rozell in a mere 57 seconds, and that fall sealed the championship title for the Blue & White. Lindenwood (4-4) subsequently forfeited the heavyweight bout, which led to NDC’s final 31-16 tally in the scorebook.
“It’s a big thrill to win the National Duals,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Frank Romano, who was named NAIA Coach of the Year last season (2009-10) after leading Notre Dame to the College’s first national championship in any sport. “With all the talent in this building, to come away with a victory in back-to-back years, that’s just not something I could have imagined.”
In the day’s opening match — NDC’s semifinal victory over Missouri Valley — Notre Dame dropped the opening bout at 125 pounds and then rattled off nine straight wins. The match was highlighted by Kevin Hardy (165 pounds) earning a 4-3 decision over No. 5-ranked Preston McKinney, Alex Denman topping No. 3 Jesse Alter in a 5-4 bout (184), Derek Foore throttling No. 3 Charlie Gibbs in a 12-1 major (197) and Orlando Scales downing Travis Ewart in a battle between the top two heavyweights in the NAIA (Scales No. 1, Ewart No. 2).
For the two-day event, Notre Dame went 4-0 and outscored opponents, 141-31. Foore was dominant for the Falcons, going 4-0 with three falls and a major. He is now 11-0 with seven pins on the season. Scales also went 4-0 and did Thomas Straughn at 157. In a 16-team field that featured 95 Top-10 grapplers, Foore, Scales and Straughn all collected two wins over Top-10 foes.
NOTES FROM THE NEST …
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: With its performance over the weekend, Notre Dame has now won seven straight matches at the UniDome — the Cedar Falls home of the National Duals since 2006. The Blue & White are 10-2 in their last 12 matches at the National Duals, dating back to 2009.
NEW KING OF THE JUNGLE: With its title on Sunday, Notre Dame became the second NAIA squad to repeat at the National Duals. Lindenwood won the NAIA crown at the Duals in 2007 and 2008. Those titles came at the apex of a fine run for the Lions that included NAIA national championship wins in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
CEDAR FALLS, BY THE NUMBERS: Among the 16 teams competing at the 2011 NAIA National Duals: 15 ranked teams, 95 Top-10 wrestlers, nine top-ranked wrestlers, five returning national champions and 24 returning All-Americans.