GVSU wrestling finishes third in Nationals preview
The Grand Valley State club wrestling team traveled to Liberty University to participate in the NWCA National Dual. This is a tournament that teams participate in to gauge the competition they will see in the National Tournament in March. The tournament is set up so the teams wrestle against each other and the winner of the two advances to the next round.
The Lakers came in as the three seed. On Friday, Jan. 26, the Lakers wrestled in three pool-play matches and won all three. First, they took on the Penn State wrestling club and won that dual 39-12. Then, the Lakers faced off against Temple University and dominated the competition with a score of 48-8. Finally, the team took on the Apprentice School Builders.
This was a much closer dual than the other two, and it actually came down to the final heavyweight bout to determine who would win. Miguel Correa, heavyweight wrestler for GVSU, matched up against a nationally ranked opponent from Apprentice and pinned him, winning the match for the Lakers. The final score of that match was 29-23. The big win from Correa helped the Lakers make it into the tournament bracket and also maintain the three seed they had coming into the tournament.
In the quarterfinals of the tournament bracket GVSU was matched up with the sixth-seeded team from Middle Tennessee State. This matchup was similar to the one with Apprentice, meaning that it all came down to the final bout, but this time the losing team would be eliminated. Once again Correa was tasked with winning his bout in order to secure the victory for his team, and he came through just as he had earlier. Correa took on the fourth-ranked heavyweight in the NWCA and managed to pin him to push his team to a 32-21 victory.
The Lakers went on to the semifinals to face a familiar foe: Liberty University, a team that has met up with GVSU in the semifinals each year for the past three years. GVSU won the dual with Liberty in 2016, and Liberty won the dual last year. This year would be much of the same for Liberty. The Lakers got down early in the dual and found themselves in a position where they would have been unable to come back, so they conceded the dual with Liberty and forfeited the final three weights. Liberty took this dual 44-6.
Although not exactly the outcome he had hoped for, GVSU club wrestling coach Rick Bolhuis saw a lot of positives from his team in the tournament.
“The team really competed hard," Bolhuis said. "Even in individual matches we lost and in our dual loss to Liberty, we competed hard despite the score or circumstance. That mentality is important when trying to be in the hunt for a team National Championship.”
This weekend saw some big performances from several wrestlers on the team. Correa, who sealed multiple victories for the Lakers, had four wins, one loss and three pins. The biggest performer in terms of points was Brendan Hazelton, who had five wins, one loss and four pins, and scored a total of 29 points for the team. Brenden DeVries had five wins, one loss, two pins and one major decision. Other big performances came from Nick Reddy, Joe Posledni and Jake Sobeck who each won four duals for the weekend.
“I think our guys realized we are more competitive than they'd been giving themselves credit for," Bolhuis said. "Additionally, we earn 14 points to carry over to the National Tournament in March. It's nice to have a little cushion on some of the field.”
The Lakers will be in action again Saturday, Feb. 3, at home in the Laker Classic Wrestling Tournament.