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National wrestling tournament win goes to Nebraska

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The Division II Wrestling Championship has been dominated by Nebraska-Omaha six times since 2004. Though they didn’t make it seven this year, the crown still returned to Nebraska, just to a different school this time.

For the first time since 2008 the Nebraska-Kearny Lopers claimed a national wrestling championship Saturday, March 10.

CSU-Pueblo played host for the Division II Wrestling Championships and it only seemed right that a fellow Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference foe took home the title.

Nebraska-Kearny solidified their second national championship with three straight individual titles in their respective weight classes. Winning the 141, 149 and 157 weight classes allowed Kearny to take the championship back to Nebraska.

The Lopers looked as if they would run away with the title after finishing day one with a commanding lead. The title didn’t come without a challenge, however. St. Cloud State won their first ten matches to start off Saturday’s events and took a brief lead over the Lopers.

The two teams were in a dead heat entering the final matches, but St. Cloud State’s Andrew Pokorny was edged in the final of the 133-pound weight class.

However thrilling the team title was getting, it couldn’t live up the atmosphere that was illuminating Massari Arena when Luke McPeek, Adams State and Dan Scanlan took to the mat to settle the 197-pound title. McPeek, a sergeant in the US Marines, rallied from a 10-4 deficit to upset the defending champion Scanlan.

As coaches rushed back to the scoring tables to change their votes for the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler to McPeek, he finished off a string of three down to the wire wins to take home the championship.

Though the ThuderWolves were not completely irrelevant, they took a back seat when both their representatives fell in the first round of the tournament. CSU-Pueblo’s Jesse Hillhouse found himself in the consolation bracket after a first round loss to Pokorny. After a win in his first consolation match, Hillhouse was eliminated after a second loss in three matches.

CSU-Pueblo’s Trevor Grant, wrestling at the 174-pound weight class, also had a chance to win a national championship for the Pack but he was eliminated after losing two out of his three matches. Grant lost to eventual third place finisher Elliot Cooperland.