MITCHELL, S.D. – Wrestlers around the NAIA were given just one shot to qualify for the NAIA National Tournament this year, and seven Dakota Wesleyan University wrestlers took full advantage Saturday.
Richard Rios, Kyle Gerlach, Tyler Sarringar, Trever DeVestern, Dusty Paulsen, Eric Gruis and Nick Hutcheson all qualified for the national tournament at the North Qualifying Tournament in Fremont, Neb. Rios, Gerlach, Sarringar, Paulsen and DeVestern qualified automatically by placing in the top four in their weight class, and Gruis and Hutcheson earned wild cards after the tournament concluded. The national tournament is March 1-2 in Des Moines, Iowa.
As a team, the Tigers took fourth at the 11-team tournament. Dakota Wesleyan scored 107 points. Dickinson State University won the tournament with 153.5 points, Morningside was second and Midland University took third.
Rios was the top finisher for Dakota Wesleyan Saturday, finishing second at 133 pounds. He went 3-1 with his only loss coming by a 3-1 decision in the first-place match. He won a 10-2 major decision to start the day, and pinned his opponent in 5:29 in the quarterfinals to earn a spot in the semifinal match, where he won a 7-5 decision over Hastings’ Alec Chanthapatheth.
Paulsen went 5-1 and took third at 149 pounds for the Tigers. He picked up two pins – one in 2:41 and one in 4:14 – to start the day and won a 5-4 decision over Midland’s Cody Green in the quarterfinals. Paulsen lost a 4-3 decision to York College’s Nicholas Clarke in the semis, but bounced back with a pin in 4:24 in the consolation semifinals to earn a spot in the third-place match, where he pinned Briar Cliff’s Skylar Weber in 7:49.
DeVestern also finished third for the Tigers, going 4-1 at 157 pounds. He won an 8-5 decision to start the day and picked up a 6-1 decision in the quarterfinal. In the semis, DeVestern lost a 6-5 decision in overtime to fall into the consolation bracket, but he won an 8-2 decision in the consolation semifinals and pinned teammate Kyle Gerlach in 4:01 in the third-place match.
Gerlach took fourth at the same weight class with a 3-2 record. He won a 4-2 decision to start the day and followed that with a 13-5 major decision, but lost by pin in 7:20 to Midland’s Tyler McMichael in the semifinals. He won an 8-2 decision in the consolation semifinals before losing to DeVestern and taking fourth.
Sarringar finished the day 5-2 at 174 pounds and finished fourth. He pinned his first opponent in 4:14 before losing an 8-4 decision to Morningside’s Rulin Pederson in the quarterfinals. He won three straight matches in the consolation bracket – a 16-5 major decision, a 6-4 decision and a 13-2 major decision – to make it to the third-place match, where he lost again to Pederson, this time by an 8-2 decision. In the fourth-place match, Sarringar beat Midland’s Connor Hovey by a 10-4 decision.
Gruis took fifth at heavyweight and Hutcheson finished sixth at 165 pounds for the Tigers to earn wild card bids to nationals. Gruis went 3-3 on the day. He won a 6-3 decision to start and a 10-2 major in the quarterfinals before losing a 9-3 decision in the semifinals. He was pinned in 2:28 in the consolation semifinals, but defeated Jamestown’s Antonio Lopez 2-1 in overtime in the fifth-place match – his second win of the day over Lopez – to earn a spot in the fourth-place match, where he lost 4-2 to Midland’s Lonnie Brown.
Hutcheson went 2-3 at 165 pounds and took sixth. He won a 3-1 decision in overtime to start his tournament run and picked up an 11-8 decision in the quarterfinals, but lost a 10-5 decision in the semis, a 2-0 decision in the consolation semifinals and lost by pin in 5:55 in the fifth-place match.
Jade Hoisington went 3-3 for the Tigers at 197, Caleb Heiberger (149) went 1-2, Ryan Roach went 2-2 at 165 and Ross Hoksbergen (197) and Kyle Hoisington (184) also competed for Dakota Wesleyan.