Photo: Sam Janicki

Central Oklahoma wins second straight national title in Division II

WICHITA, Kan. -- For the second straight year, Central Oklahoma is the king of NCAA Division II wrestling.

The Bronchos repeated as team champion at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships on Saturday night in Wichita, Kan.

It was Central Oklahoma's ninth national championship, making them the winningest program in championship history.

UCO won the team title with 110 points. Lander finished second in the team standings with 86.5 points. Nebraska-Kearney (77.5), McKendree (73) and St. Cloud State (64) rounded on the top five.

Central Oklahoma clinched the team title earlier in the day but put the finishing touches on it Saturday night, crowning a pair of national champions, Gabe Johnson (157) and Shawn Streck (285). Both wrestlers were seeded third.

Johnson turned in an impressive championship performance, beating No. 1 Nick Novak of St. Cloud State 10-7 to win the title at 157 pounds. Johnson led 8-2 after two periods. Novak battled back in the third period, getting an escape, stall point and takedown off an inside trip to cut the deficit to one … but Johnson would hang on for the win.

Streck, a returning NCAA champion, found himself in an early 3-0 hole after giving up a takedown to fourth-seeded Juan Edmond-Holmes of Lander. But Streck stayed composed, getting an escape, takedown and stalling point to grab a 5-3 lead after the opening period. He would add an escape in the second period and an additional point for riding time to win 7-5.

Streck was one of three wrestlers to win back-to-back titles in Division II. Joining him as repeat champions were Tiffin's Zack Donathan (141) and West Liberty's Ty McGeary (184).

Donathan cruised to a 13-3 major decision over No. 6 Nick James of Nebraska-Kearney in the finals at 141 pounds. McGeary was dominant from start to finish in winning the title at 184 pounds. He rolled to a 9-1 major decision victory over Matt Weinberg of Kutztown in the championship match to finish his season undefeated.

Lander crowned a national champion at 165 pounds with top-seeded David Hunsberger. The Lander sophomore knocked off returning national champion Chase Luensman of Upper Iowa 8-6 in the finals. Hunsberger led by one point late in the second period before scoring a takedown off a double leg to extend his lead to 6-2, which would prove to be the difference in the match.

Derek Blubaugh of Indianapolis captured the national title at 197 pounds after finishing runner-up in both 2022 and 2023. Both of his finals losses came to Central Oklahoma's Dalton Abney. So it was only fitting that his national title came over Abney on Saturday night. Abney appeared to score the first points of the match when he was awarded a takedown on the edge of the mat. The call was challenged and overturned. Blubaugh then scored a takedown with 30 seconds left in the first period and led 3-0 after the opening period. The UIndy wrestler rode out Abney for the entire second period and added an escape and riding time point for a 5-1 victory.

Third-seeded Christian Mejia of McKendree won the title at 125 pounds with a 5-2 victory over No. 4 Jaxson Rohman of Augustana. After a scoreless first period, Mejia used an escape and takedown in the second period -- along with a riding-time point -- to propel him to the victory.

Top-seeded Gabe Hixenbaugh of Montevallo came through to win the championship at 133 pounds, defeating returning national champion Gavin Quiocho of Glenville State 4-1. He used a first-period takedown to pace him to the victory. Hixenbaugh, a transfer from Campbell, capped off an undefeated season to become Montevallo's first-ever national champion wrestler.

Pitt-Johnstown's Jacob Ealy picked up the title at 149 pounds with a 12-7 victory over surprise finalist Cody Thompson of the Colorado School of Mines. Ealy led 11-1 in the second period before Thompson battled back, getting within five but couldn't complete the comeback.

Josh Kenny of Grand Valley State showcased his strong top game en route to winning the championship at 174 pounds over Central Oklahoma's Anthony Des Vigne. After a scoreless first period, Kenny turned Des Vigne early in the second period to go up 4-0. A short time later, Kenny turned Des Vigne again for four more points before getting the pin. Grand Valley State was in its first year as a reinstated program after a 32-year hiatus. GVSU finished 13th in the team standings.

125: No. 3 Christian Mejia (McKendree) dec. No. 4 Jaxson Rohman (Augustana), 5-2
133: No. 1 Gabe Hixenbaugh (Montevallo) dec. No. 3 Gavin Quiocho (Glenville State), 4-1
141: No. 1 Zack Donathan (Tiffin) maj. dec. No. 6 Nick James (Nebraska-Kearney), 13-3
149: No. 2 Jacob Ealy (Pitt-Johnstown) dec. Cody Thompson (Colorado School of Mines), 12-7
157: No. 3 Gabe Johnson (Central Oklahoma) dec. No. 1 Nick Novak (St. Cloud State), 10-7
165: No. 1 David Hunsberger (Lander) dec. No. 2 Chase Luensman (Upper Iowa), 8-6
174: No. 4 Josh Kenny (Grand Valley State) pinned No. 6 Anthony Des Vigne (Central Oklahoma), 4:47
184: No. 1 Ty McGeary (West Liberty) maj. dec. No. 3 Matt Weinberg (Kutztown), 9-1
197: No. 2 Derek Blubaugh (Indianapolis) dec. No. 1 Dalton Abney (Central Oklahoma), 5-1
285: No. 3 Shawn Streck (Central Oklahoma) dec. No. 4 Juan Edmond-Holmes (Lander), 7-4

Team Standings (Top 10):
1. Central Oklahoma 110
2. Lander 86.5
3. Nebraska-Kearney 77.5
4. McKendree 73
5. St. Cloud State 64
6. Pitt-Johnstown 45
7. Wisconsin-Parkside 41
8. Augustana 40.5
9. Indianapolis 37.5
10. Adams State 33.5
10. UNC Pembroke 33.5