When the NAIA Wrestling Championship tournament began in 1958, competitors were liable to run into some of the best college wrestlers in the country at any level. Gray Simons (Lock Haven), who won three Division I titles, was the first four-time NAIA champion, winning every year from 1959-62. Throughout the event's history, power programs that eventually moved on to have success in the NCAA at various levels cycled through, but none ever won six titles in a row. Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, didn't have a wrestling team for most of that history, competing for the first time during the 2008-09 season. However, success came quickly for the Vikings as they finished eighth that year before winning their first title in 2012. They've claimed every NAIA national title since, lapping the field in 2017, earning five individual titles, crowning 12 All-Americans, and topping second-place Lindsey Wilson by an absurd 160 points, breaking their own scoring record with 234.5. In doing so, they became the first NAIA team to ever win six in a row and moved into a tie for third-most wrestling championships overall. They now stand even with Montana State-Northern, two behind Adams State and Central Oklahoma, who competed as Central State when they were in the NAIA.
Last week, in our DIII preview, we looked at the dominance of Wartburg and Augsburg. Nick Mitchell knows that rivalry well as he is a Wartburg alum who was an assistant there before building Grand View into the powerhouse it is today. The Vikings' streak of six consecutive national titles has only been bettered, in any division, by Cal Poly, seven DII titles from 1968-74, Oklahoma State, seven DI titles from 1937-46 on either side of World War II, and Iowa, nine DI titles from 1978-86. This is the sort of rarefied air Grand View has entered and with the return of eight All-Americans, including four defending champions, they are heavy favorites once again.
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