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NAIA Campbellsville leads nation in dual meet wins

Campbellsville coach Franky James.

Campbellsville coach Franky James.

By Toria Alsip and Chris Megginson
Campbellsville University Sports Information

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – Fifth-ranked Campbellsville Tiger wrestling wrapped up its 2013-14 duals schedule Wednesday, Feb. 12 with a 34-14 win at No. 14 University of the Cumberlands, locking up the most duals wins in all of college wrestling for 2013-14.

Campbellsville (24-7) shattered its previous school record of 13 wins and will finish ahead of Indiana Tech (19-5) and Grand View University (17-1) among NAIA programs. Division III programs Luther College (20-6), UW-Whitewater (20-5) and Wartburg (19-1) are among the Top 5 for wins in the National Wrestling Coaches Association stats reports, but none of them have enough duals remaining to catch CU.

Since 2007-08 only four teams have had 24 or more wins in one season: Wartburg (25-0, 2008), Cornell College (25-13-1, 2010), York College (25-3-1, 2012) and the University of Iowa (24-0, 2009). No other NAIA program has had more than 24 wins in the last seven years.

“It takes a whole team working together, making each other better, to accomplish something like that,” said Franky James, CU head coach. “That is a school record that will be hard to break.”

Earlier this season, Campbellsville and Coach James recorded their 100th win in the program’s 10-year history with a win at home over Life University (Ga.) on Jan. 4. CU now has 109 wins in its 10 seasons.

“That’s pretty amazing that we started from scratch and have averaged over 10 dual meet wins per year for 10 years,” said James, who started the program in 2003. “It’s been 10 great years here for Tiger Wrestling.”

The Tigers came out ready to go Wednesday in a dual, which decided second-place in the Mid-South Conference. Third-ranked Cody Steiner started things off for the Tigers with a win by a decision in the 125-pound weight class. Senior Tyler Alsip, now ranked No. 7 at 133 pounds, finished out his last regular season match with a tech fall, 20-3, over No. 14 Andrew Tillman. Alsip, who entered January ranked No. 1, was able to find his groove after coming off of four straight losses and an injury. The wing gave CU an 8-0 edge.

Senior Brandon Westerman, ranked No. 2 at 141, recorded an 11-1 major decision for his final regular season match. This was Alsip and Westerman’s last dual of their careers. Sam Conners pinned his opponent in the second period at 149 pounds. Conners was looking for the win to help secure him a possible spot in the top 12 to go to regionals.

“I really like the way Sam Conners is competing, and the way he works through the week. He has earned a Top 12 spot in my mind, but I will look at everyone over the next three or four days, and then we will let them know who is in the Top 12,” said James. “Only 12 get to go after postseason awards, but it takes more than 12 guys to win 24 duals.”

Sixth-ranked Shawn McGee and No. 11 Trey Rhodes both teched their opponents at 157 and 165, respectively, to stretch Campbellsville’s lead to 27-0, and clinch the dual win. Kyle Sweedman wrestled his first match as a 174 pounder, pinning his opponent in 34 seconds to add six more points to the board. Sweedman, also fighting for a spot in the Top 12 for NAIA competition, dropped to 174 after this previous weekend.

Campbellsville’s only losses in the dual came from 184-pounder Miguel Santis and heavy weight Justin Sampson, who lost 20-4 to No. 4 Courtney Freeman. The Tigers gave up a forfeit at the 197 pound weight class due to illness.

Campbellsville (2-1 MSC) finishes runner-up in the Mid-South Conference after winning or sharing the MSC title each of the last four seasons.

The Tigers will be back in action Saturday, Feb. 22 at Life University in Marietta, Ga., for the NAIA Eastern Regional Qualifying Tournament. CU will then travel to Topeka, Kan., for the 52nd annual NAIA Wrestling Championships, March 7-8.

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