Grand View wins 11th NAIA title; Life U also earns three champs

From Grand View

No. 1 Grand View wrestling claims their 11th NAIA National Championship team title in program history, March 3-4 in Wichita, Kan.. Along with the team title, Grand View had three individual national champions that were crowned at 141, 197, and 285.

The phenomenal run by 141-pounder Shea Ruffridge (SR/Pocahontas, IA ) will go down in Grand View Wrestling history. The underdog all year would hold a 6th-ranked position, and heading into the last few weeks of the season Ruffridge would land at No. 4. After following his tremendous last-second win, Ruffridge proved it to be no fluke, and he would win by decision over Life University’s Julian Hernandez, 8-1 to take home his first ever Individual National Championship.

The Vikings got their second national championship from the 197-pounder Owen Braungardt. Braungardt went on an absolute tear during his National Championship tenture – Braungardt started the majority of his season sidelined by an injury. During his final match, Braungardt won by a decision, 6-1 to be crowned a National Champion.

The final cherry on top for the Vikings would be the final match of the evening between former Division I wrestlers Greg Hagan, and Austin Harris of Life University. Hagan wouldn’t waste any time and he would get a pin in the first period to end a whirlwind of a National Tournament for the Vikings.

Grand View amassed a record of 52-13 through the entirety of the tournament.

Also garnering accolades at the conclusion of the championship as Head Coach Nick Mitchell who was named NAIA Head Coach of the Year, and Shea Ruffridge earned Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Year.

From Life University

Life Univeristy of Marietta, Ga., saw multiple program bests for the men’s wrestling program at the NAIA Men’s Wrestling Championships as the team placed six guys in championship bouts with three of them earning the highest honors as the Running Eagles recorded a second place finish in Hartman Arena.

Despite being down two wrestlers, Life U amassed 157.5 team points, creating nearly 70 points of separation with the third placed team Southeastern, 90 points, but came up short of champions Grand View who won their 11th title in 12 years with 206 points.

Brandon Orum made his way to the 125 lbs title match for the third straight year, pulling off his second championship. The redshirt senior was the second highest scorer for the team with 23.0 points. Orum’s ability to force his opponent into his own pace could not have been more clear on the second day, earning a 1-0 decision victory over the 14-seed in the semis to secure a spot in the title bout. In his final match Saturday night, a late escape and riding time secured the Camden County native his second title in a 5-4 decision.

The second title of the night came from Brevin Balmeceda at 149 lbs. After a third place finish last year, the junior seemed unstoppable during the tournament, being the team’s high scorer with 23.5 total points. On the second day dominated the 2-seed from Grand View in the semis, earning a 6-0 decision victory to advance to the title bout. Balmeceda matched up with the top seed that has been the runner-up in each of the last three 149 lbs finals, and provided him the same result, earning a 2-1 decision victory.

The last title came as a redemption story, Asher Eichert returning to the final mat two years after being a 174 lbs. finalist to claim  the top spot at 184 lbs. In the semis, he faced the top seed and returning national champion at 184 lbs, securing a strong 4-1 decision victory. The finals saw an AAC Conference rematch, Eichert going against the 14-seed from Southeastern, controlling his opponent to a 5-2 decision victory.

NAIA Championships

March 3-4 • Wichita, Kan.

Team Standings

Rk. Team Score
1. Grand View (Iowa) 206.0
2. Life U. (Ga.) 157.5
3. Southeastern (Fla.) 90.0
4. Menlo (Calif.) 74.0
5. Indiana Tech 61.0
6. Doane (Neb.) 54.0
7t. Marian (Ind.) 52.5
7t. Thomas More (Ky.) 52.5
9. Cumberland (Tenn.) 46.0
10. Providence (Mont.) 45.0
11. Reinhardt (Ga.) 44.0
12. Eastern Oregon 42.0
13. Ottawa (Kan.) 39.5
14. Central Methodist (Mo.) 33.5
15t. Campbellsville (Ky.) 31.5
15t. Cumberlands (Ky.) 31.5
15t. Montana State – Northern 31.5
18. Keiser (Fla.) 30.5
19. Oklahoma City 26.5
20. Baker (Kan.) 25.0
21. Vanguard (Calif.) 24.5
22t. Graceland (Iowa) 21.0
23t. Morningside (Iowa) 21.0
24. Cornerstone (Mich.) 19.5
25t. Corban (Ore.) 17.5
25t. Southern Oregon 17.5
27t. Brewton-Parker (Ga.) 15.5
27t. Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 15.5
29. Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) 14.5
30. William Penn (Iowa) 10.5
31. Lourdes (Ohio) 9.5
32. St. Thomas (Minn.) 9.0
33. Dakota Wesleyan 8.5
34. Missouri Valley 7.5
35. Briar Cliff (Iowa) 5.0
36t. Oklahoma Wesleyan 3.5
36t. Texas Wesleyan 3.5
38. Northwestern (Iowa) 3.0
39t. Concordia (Minn.) 2.5
39t. Iowa Wesleyan 2.5
39t. Midway (Ky.) 2.5
42t. Midland (Texas) 2.0
42t. Wayland Baptist (Texas) 2.0
44t. Avila (Mo.) 1.5
44t. West Virginia Tech 1.5
46t. Hastings (Neb.) 1.0
46t. Rio Grande (Ohio) 1.0
48t. Missouri Baptist 0.5
48t. Saint Mary (Kan.) 0.5
48t. Simpson (Iowa) 0.5
51t. Arizona Christian 0.0
51t. Central Baptist (Ark.) 0.0
51t. Montreat (N.C.) 0.0
51t. Rochester (Mich.) 0.0
51t. Truett McConnell (Ga.) 0.0
51t. Waldorf (Iowa) 0.0
51t. York (Neb.) 0.0
51t. St. Ambrose (Iowa) -1.5

Individual Placement Matches

125 pounds

1st — Brandon Orum (Life) dec. Hunter Sparks (Eastern Oregon), 5-4

3rd — Trevor Marsman (Cornerstone) dec. Dennis McNeal (Brewton-Parker ), 8-5

5th — Riley Siason (Menlo) dec. Esco Walker (Grand View), 3-1

7th — Isaac Crowell (Southeastern) dec. Conner Diamond (Lindsey Wilson), 3-0

133 pounds

1st — Gulomjon Abdullaev (Menlo) dec. Carson Taylor (Grand View), 7-3

3rd — Evan Potter (Southern Oregon) dec. Blake Mulkey (Marian), 3-1 sv

5th — Sammy Shires (Cumberland) pinned Joe Lupton (Graceland), 1:32

7th — Jovan Garcia (Menlo) dec. Matt Gimson (Indiana Tech), 9-4

141 pounds

1st — Shea Ruffridge (Grand View) dec.  Julian Hernandez (Life), 8-1

3rd — Baterdene Boldmaa (Doane) dec. Patrick Gould (Keiser), 8-5

5th — Cade Manion (Oklahoma City) dec.  Asa Garcia (Marian),  5-2

7th — Chasen Brown (Cumberlands) dec. David Pierson (St. Thomas),  3-2

149 pounds

1st — Brevin Balmeceda (Life) dec. Ryan Moore (Thomas More),  2-1

3rd — Blake Gonzalez (Grand View) dec. Jace Luchau (Cumberlands), 7-1 sv

5th — Keegan Luton (Oklahoma City) dec. Nathan Lendt (Doane), 1-0

7th — Trent Johnson (Lindsey Wilson) dec.  John Diener (Morningside), 11-4

157 pounds

1st — Sal Silva (Southeastern) dec. Israel Casarez (Grand View), 3-1 sv

3rd — Giovanni Bonilla (Grand View) dec. Donald Griffin (Central Methodist), 5-3

5th — Wilder Wichman (Thomas More) dec. Nate Wheeler (Indiana Tech) 3-1 sv

7th — Steven Villalobos (Life) dec. Trevor Burdick (Reinhardt), 5-3

165 pounds

1st — Rysan Leong (Menlo) dec. David Rubio (Corban), 4-3

3rd — Cole Smith (Cumberland) dec. Marty Margolis (Grand View),  2-0

5th — Matt Jenkins (Reinhardt) won by medical forfeit over  Jack Bass (Life)

7th — Shadrick Slone (Campbellsville) dec. Bridger Hall (Providence), 6-1

174 pounds

1st — Gerardo Hernandez (Vanguard) dec. Isaiah Luellen (Grand View), 3-1 sv

3rd — Riley Smucker (Life) dec. Nakoda Siegel (Montana State – Northern), 6-4

5th — Cole Tenety (Reinhardt) dec. Douglas Peppers (Southeastern), 8-5

7th — Stephen Kelle (Southeastern) dec. Chinges Tsermaa (Doane), 8-2

184 pounds

1st — Asher Eichert (Life) dec. Coleman Bryant (Southeastern), 5-2

3rd — Ben Lee (Grand View) dec. Eric Vermillion (Indiana Tech), 2-0

5th — Sawyer Hobbs (Providence) major dec. J.D. Perez (Ottawa),  15-7

7th — Austin Vanek (Montana State – Northern) dec. Sam Irwin (Reinhardt), 7-5 sv

197 pounds

1st — Owen Braungardt (Grand View) dec. Zane Lanham (Life), 6-1

3rd — Bradley Antesberger (Doane) dec. Malachi Karibo (Baker), 3-1 sv

5th — Nathan Critchfield (Indiana Tech) won by medical forfeit over Jack Servies (Marian)

7th — Tucker Tomlinson (Ottawa) dec. Elijah Hynes (Central Methodist), 4-0


1st — Greg Hagen (Grand View) pinned Austin Harris (Life), 1:43

3rd — Gabe Jacobs (Southeastern) pinned KC Buday (Providence), 6:12

5th —  Daulton Mayer (Thomas More) pinned Noel Orozco (Eastern Oregon), 1:11

7th — Earnest Johnson (Keiser) major dec. David Toese (Graceland), 12-0

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