By Scott Farrell
DALTON, Ga. – Peter Anguiano of Grand Canyon took control early in the heavyweight match, and with the Collegiate Cup title on the line, dominated the rest of the way as Grand Canyon rallied in the final three weights to get past Shorter, 23-19. The win earns the Lopes the title in the first leg of the NCWA Championship Series, along with 24 team points that will carry over to the start of the NCWA Championships in March.
Anguiano closed his big evening by pulling away from Shorter’s Marlen Morgan with a four-point second period and won, 11-4, to end the see-saw title match that had three lead changes and a tie after 10 bouts. Anguiano opened the night by pinning the top-ranked heavyweight, Ian Jones of Apprentice, in the first period of their semifinal match.
The championship was tied 19-19 following the 235-pound match, where third-ranked Andrew Ewers’ won over GCU’s Nate Zobott, 9-4. Shorter led, 16-15, after Shorter’s Terrence Smith defended his top-ranking at 184 pounds with an 8-7 win over GCU’s Austin Gaun, ranked eighth. But Marcus Haughian came right back with an 8-0 major decision at 197 pounds to put GCU ahead, 19-16.
GCU took control early in the match with wins in three of the first four matches. Zach Zehner won with a first-period pin at 141, and Lino Estrada put the Lopes on the board with a 12-2 major decision over Jesse Jones at 133. Mike Hamel, an NCAA Division II All-American last year, won by technical fall (16-1) at 149 to give GCU a three-match win streak and a 15-6 lead midway through the match.
Shorter climbed back beginning at 157 pounds, where the Hawks’ second-ranked Kannon Madden beat GCU’s top-ranked Chayse Jackson, 6-3. Madden’s win was the last of a string of upsets where Shorter wrestlers defeated higher-ranked opponents from the NCWA rankings. Wally Figaro then decisioned Juan Carlos Maynes, and Dalton Lane majored Austin Trujillo, 11-3, to bring Shorter to within 15-13.
In the opening match of the championship, Benjamin Smith edged AJ Salazar, 12-10.
Lane should ascend to the top spot of the 174 rankings after beating Liberty’s top-ranked Keyshaun Ward in the semifinals, 9-0, along with other multiple changes sparked by Shorter’s and GCU results. Following Lane’s upset in the semi’s, the next match offered a 1-vs-2 match as well and Shorter again pulled out the win as top-ranked Terrence Smith edged Liberty’s Royal Brettrager, 8-5. The two wins helped Shorter take the lead, but the match still came down to heavyweight again, and the Hawks’ Marlen Morgan took down Zachary Newton in overtime for a 3-1 win to send Shorter into the final.
GCU won a runaway over Apprentice, 54-0, in the other semifinal. Shorter will earn 23 team points toward the NCWA Championships based on its runner-up finish, with Liberty taking 22 points and Apprentice 21 with their top-four finishes. Every team that competed at the Collegiate Cup earned team points toward the championship based on the weighted scale.
Central Florida took fifth place with a 24-19 win over Grand Valley State, and the rest of the top 10 was Mott Community College (Mich.) in seventh, followed by Middle Tennessee State, South Florida and Mercer.
No team has repeated as champion in the Collegiate Cup’s six-year history. Previous winners are Grand Valley State (2009), Marion Military Institute (2010), California Baptist (2011), Liberty (2012) and Lindenwood-St. Charles (2013). Grand Canyon, in the first year of its provisional NCAA membership, is expected to return to defend its title next year.
Complete boxscores for each match can be found at www.ncwa.net/results.
Championship – Grand Canyon 23, Shorter 19
3rd place – Liberty 48, Apprentice 12
5th place – Central Florida 24, Grand Valley State 19
7th place – Mott CC (Mich.) 36, Middle Tennessee 24
9th place – South Florida 34, Mercer 18
11th place – North Florida 1, Mass. Inst. of Technology 0 (forfeit)
13th place – Florida Gulf Coast 39, Marion Military Institute 21
15th place – Stony Brook 33, East Tennessee State 30
17th place – Southern Virginia 39, Tennessee Temple 12
19th place – Texas 27, Connecticut 12
21st place – Toledo 1, South Carolina 0 (forfeit)