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Monday, May 2, 2016

Valley qualifies seven wrestlers for NAIA meet

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Valley junior Gian Traverso (top) got his season off to a good start with a third-place showing in the UCM Open.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
WARRENSBURG -- The Missouri Valley College men's wrestling team logged seven NAIA Championships qualifiers Sunday during the University of Central Missouri Open at Warrensburg.

Head coach Mike Machholz called it "a pretty good start" for the Vikings, who graduated three of their five all-Americans from a squad which placed sixth at nationals a year ago.

Leading the way for Valley, ranked seventh in the NAIA pre-season poll, was junior Gian Traverso. The fifth-rated 157-pounder won five of six matches, the only loss being in the semifinals to eventual champion Albert White of Oklahoma State, to place third.

Senior Damon Jackson, ranked 12th at 165, and sophomore heavyweight Dan Mueller each went 4-2 and finished in fourth place.

Senior Jesse Alter (197 pounds) was also 4-2, coming in fifth, and the Vikings got a nice debut from true freshman Jake Ekster of Houston -- who led the team with six wins, out of eight matches, to place fifth. That after losing his opening bout against the top-ranked grappler in junior college ranks.

Also eligible for nationals are No. 3 senior all-American Shay Shive, along with sophomores Nico Martinez (157) and Carl Lawrence (285) -- who all qualified for seventh-place matches. Sophomore Brian Bitney (133) and freshmen Shaidai Lariviere (125) and Gabi Musallum (285) each won three times.

"We kind of had a bad first round with the freshmen, but they battled well on the back side of the bracket," Machholz said.

Valley sent a handful of entries to a meet at Oklahoma City University on Saturday, Nov. 5, where senior all-American Paulie Hansen -- No. 3 at 125 pounds -- reached the finals before losing and sophomore Wesley Dallas (133) placed fourth. Jackson and Lawrence advanced as far as the consolation semifinals.

The Vikings will have their first home match of the season Wednesday, when they and the women's team take on Oklahoma City.

"This is really big," Machholz described the meeting with the 10th-ranked Stars. "They are in our region and we need to send a message as a team."

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