Grand Canyon paces RMAC field
Four Antelopes reach Super Regional IV finals, NCAA meet
HAYS, Kan. -- Grand Canyon leads the field after Day 1 of the Division II Super Regional IV (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) Championships on Saturday. Ranked No. 7 in the nation, GCU has 88.5 points, five more than No. 3 Nebraska-Kearney (83.5).
The Antelopes will have four wrestlers vying for region championships Sunday, including Kyle McCrite (125 pounds), Bobby Ward (149), Victor Carazo (174) and Celic Bell (197). All four have qualified for next month’s NCAA Championship.
Three other wrestlers -- Lino Estrada (133), Ted Bristol (157) and Jordan Johnson (285) -- are still alive for berths in the Division II Championship. The top four in each weight class advance.
|SUPER REGION IV (RMAC)|
“These tournaments can be like weddings and like funerals,” GCU head coach R.C. LaHaye said. “You have the highest highs and the lowest lows.”
Though seven wrestlers are still fighting for team points and NCAA qualification Sunday, GCU had three wrestlers finish seasons. Madison Gambrell (141), David Wilber (165) and Brett Sanchez(184), all had their seasons come to an end.
It was Gambrell’s first competition of the season. He was a national qualifier last season. Sanchez came in No. 5 in the nation in his competitive weight class.
Grand Canyon’s team score was aided by bonus-point wins. The Antelopes had seven wins by fall.
McCrite will take on Adams State’s Gerald Huff in the 125-pound final. McCrite lost a 5-4 decision to Huff last month. To get to the final, the two-time JUCO All-American opened with a win by fall against New Mexico Highlands’ Tim Humphrey in 4:27. He downed Nebraska-Kearney’s Jordan White 9-5 in the quarterfinals and dominated CSU-Pueblo’s Tim Urenda 15-3 in the semis.
Ward had little trouble moving on to Sunday’s final. After getting a bye into the quarterfinals, he pinned Chadron State’s Austin Cordova in 1:13 and bested returning All-American Mitchell Means of Fort Hays State -- for the second time this month -- 16-1. Ward will face Nebraska-Kearney’s Raufeon Stots in the final. Ward lost a 5-3 decision to Stots last week.
McCrite and Ward both have opportunities to avenge their only RMAC losses of the season.
Two-time All-American Carazo added three more wins to his total, giving him 21 consecutive and upping his all-time school-record mark to 94. He started the morning off with an 8-3 win vs. Aman Ostadsharif of San Francisco State. In the quarterfinals, he beat Jarrod Purvis of Adams State 7-4. In the semis, Carazo picked up a 3-2 decision against Trevor Grant of CSU-Pueblo. Carazo takes on Western State’s Elliot Copeland in the final, who Carazo beat 10-4 on Jan. 7.
Bell will also get a chance to avenge an earlier season loss. He willl face Adams State’s Luke McPeek in the final. Bell started his day off with a major decision 11-1 against San Francisco State’s Thomas Martin. He beat Colorado Mesa’s Jordan Passehl 10-7 in the quarters and was in control from start to finish in a 7-1 semifinal win vs. Chadron State’s Chris Leak.
“I’m excited for all four of them. All four of them can definitely win it,” LaHaye said.
To move into the third-place match, Estrada will have to beat Matthew Greene of Western State. Estrada lost a tight 6-5 decision to Greene in a dual during the regular season.
Bristol will take on Fort Hays State’s Derek Koehn, who he lost to 5-4 in a dual in Hays on Feb. 15.
Johnson looks to keep his post season alive against Adams State’s Taylor Stam, who he beat 7-4 in January.
“They need to come out with their best stuff,” LaHaye said of his consolation round wrestlers.
In only the program’s fifth season, GCU is looking for its first super region championship.
“Four teams have six-to-eight guys left, so it’s going to be a tight race [Sunday],” LaHaye said. “Every match is important. I have confidence in our guys and our preparation that we can go out and get a region title.”