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Kaleb Bigelow wins GPAC wrestling title for DWU, which qualifies four for nationals

Feb. 17—SEWARD, Neb. — Powered by the program's first conference champion in eight seasons, the Dakota Wesleyan University wrestling team will send four wrestlers to the NAIA national wrestling tournament at the end of the month, the most in a decade after a solid showing at the Great Plains Athletic Conference championships.

Kaleb Bigelow, a sophomore from Pinedale, Wyoming, won the 165-pound title at the GPAC championships Saturday in Seward, Nebraska, becoming the first DWU champion at the conference or regional level since Trever Devestern in 2016. Bigelow, who has a 15-2 record, won by 4-2 decision over Concordia's Tommy Wentz for the title.

Also qualifying for the NAIA national meet for DWU were Aric Williams at 141 pounds, Tyson Johnson at 157 pounds and Trevion Sample at 285 pounds.

Williams, a Pierre product and graduate student, finished third at 141 with a pair of wins after losing in the semifinals, including a 7-6 decision in the consolation semifinals and an 18-3 technical fall over teammate Zach Zitek to claim the final automatic qualifying spot in the class.

Johnson, a sophomore from Pierre, won three matches after a semifinal loss to clinch a spot at nationals, including a third-period pin in the third-place match. He then won a true-second match over Morningside's Noah Styskal 8-5 to lock up his spot.

Sample, a redshirt junior from Arlington, Texas was 3-1 for the weekend to finish third, with the third-place match won by forfeit. He had a 3-2 ultimate tie-breaker win in the consolation semifinals to assure himself of advancing.

Williams and Kaleb Bigelow each qualified for the second year in a row, while Sample and Johnson will be first timers. It is the first time DWU has had four or more qualifiers to the NAIA national meet since sending six to nationals in 2014. DWU could add more qualifiers via at-large selections, with Lane Miller (174) and Zitek at 141 pounds as possible additions.

"These two days are gruesome; they bring out all the emotions you could for as a competitor," DWU coach Martin Mueller told the school's athletic website. "We had highs and lows all weekend, but we performed well as a team. I am ecstatic for Tyson, Kaleb, Aric, and Trevion as they have proven themselves time and time again. We have some opportunities to get some at large bids and I think our guys are worthy of those spots. I am so grateful to have this group of guys that we do. We battled hard through the whole tournament."

The NAIA wrestling championships will be held Feb. 29 to March 2 in Park City, Kansas.

Great Plains Athletic Conference championships

Friday-Saturday at Seward, Neb.

Team scores: 1. Doane 190, 2. Morningside 165.5, 3. Briar Cliff 110.5, 4. Dakota Wesleyan 103.5, 5. Concordia (Neb.) 73, 6. Northwestern 71, 7. Jamestown 64.5, 8. Hastings 50.5, 9. Midland 5

Individual results

125 (One national berth) — Championship: Nathan Rizek (Doane) 4-0, RS Jr. over Gabe Grice (MORN) 8-1, RS So. (Fall 2:59); Third: Dante Rigal (BCU) 21-6, RS Fr. over Hunter Bennett (Doane) 2-2, Jr. (Fall 1:13); Fifth: Justin Rodriquez (HAST) 4-2, Fr. over Sean Heeney (NWC) 8-10, RS Sr. (Fall 6:38)

133 (Three national berths) — Championship: Isaiah Miller (UJ) 23-6, Fr. over Jarrod Gilliam (BCU) 16-10, RS So. (Dec 8-4); Third: CaRon Watson (BCU) 15-6, over Devin Avedissian (Doane) 1-2, So. (MD 12-3); Fifth: Temuujin Natsagdorj (DWU) 5-13, RS Jr. over Johnny Burnette (NWC) 18-14, So. (MD 13-3)

141 (Three national berths) — Championship: Taylor Vasquez (MORN) 25-9, RS Sr. over Creighton Baughman (CUNE) 31-6, RS Jr. (Dec 4-2); Third: Aric Williams (DWU) 10-3, RS Sr. over Zach Zitek (DWU) 14-11, RS Jr. (TF-1.5 7:00 (18-3)); Fifth: Trey Schuck (NWC) 3-2, Sr. over Pedro Corona (UJ) 6-15, RS Sr. (Fall 3:47)

149 (Two national berths) — Championship: Nathan Lendt (Doane) 3-0, RS Jr. over Ethan Krey (BCU) 21-9, RS So. (MD 13-4); True second: Ethan Krey (BCU) 21-9, RS So. over Tommy Beringer (UJ) 13-11, Sr. (NC); Third: Tommy Beringer (UJ) 13-11, Sr. over Jack Morton (HAST) 2-2, Jr. (Fall 2:14); Fifth: Hunter Steffans (MORN) 8-14, Fr. over Zach Kolbe (DWU) 3-9, (Dec 8-3)

157 (Three national berths) — Championship: Ben Miller (Doane) 3-0, So. over Noah Styskal (MORN) 16-13, RS Sr. (SV-1 8-5); True second: Tyson Johnson (DWU) 13-7, Jr. over Noah Styskal (MORN) 16-13, RS Sr. (Dec 8-6); Third: Tyson Johnson (DWU) 13-7, Jr. over Ben Peters (BCU) 16-12, N/A. (Fall 6:24); Fifth: Jake Patterson (HAST) 2-2, RS Jr. over Tyler Fouts (BCU) 11-14, So. (Fall 0:56)

165 (Two national berths) — Championship: Kaleb Bigelow (DWU) 15-2, Jr. over Tommy Wentz (CUNE) 12-6, Jr. (Dec 4-2); True second: Tommy Wentz (CUNE) 12-6, Jr. over Zander Ernst (MORN) 21-7, So. (NC); Third: Zander Ernst (MORN) 21-7, So. over Barret Brandt (CUNE) 30-11, Fr. (TF-1.5 4:43 (21-6)); Fifth: Caden Eggleston (MORN) 12-10, Fr. over Brandon Harris (BCU) 12-16, So. (For.)

174 (Three national berths) — Championship: Michael Scarponi (Doane) 3-0, RS Fr. over Cael Jordan (Doane) 2-1, Jr. (For.); Third: Alex Vandyke (MORN) 12-9, Jr. over Lane Miller (DWU) 15-4, RS So. (MD 12-4); Fifth: Naim Abualjubain (HAST) 2-2, Fr. over Jackson Chapin (MORN) 16-12, Jr. (Fall 3:56)

184 (Four national berths) — Championship: Tyson Beauperthuy (Doane) 4-0, So. over Hayden Wempen (MORN) 17-8, RS Sr. (Dec 9-2); Third: Luke Jenness (NWC) 20-6, RS Sr. over Jakob Francksen-Small (NWC) 18-11, Sr. (For.); True fourth: Jakob Francksen-Small (NWC) 18-11, Sr. over Chase Stieb (Doane) 3-2, So. (NC); Fifth: Chase Stieb (Doane) 3-2, So. over Caleb Connor (MORN) 12-7, Sr. (Dec 10-7)

197 (Three national berths) — Championship: Bradley Antesberger (Doane) 3-0, RS Fr. over Kasten Grape (Doane) 3-1, RS So. (For.); Third: Mason Garcia (CUNE) 15-9, Sr. over Jake Rau (UJ) 2-2, Sr. (Fall 1:54); Fifth: Kaleb Lind (NWC) 22-12, Jr. over Christian Balmer (BCU) 10-10, RS Sr. (MD 11-1)

285 (Five national berths) — Championship: Hunter DeJong (MORN) 18-4, RS Sr. over Jakob Jerabek (MORN) 9-4, RS Jr. (Dec 4-2); Third: Trevion Sample (DWU) 10-1, Sr. over Eli Criblez (Doane) 3-2, Fr. (For.); Fifth: Alton Allen (BCU) 22-13, RS Jr. over Chance Robinson (UJ) 18-15, RS Fr. (TB-1 3-2)