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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Valley grappler medals at Reno major

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(Photo)
Valley junior Dan Mueller (top) won three straight matches in the 285-pound wrestleback, pinning two opponents, during the Reno Tournament of Champions.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
RENO, Nev. -- Junior Josh Manu wrestled his way for Missouri Valley College's lone medal Sunday during the Reno Tournament of Champions, a meet stacked with NCAA Division I powers.

The Vikings finished 17th out of 27 teams with 23.5 points, Oregon State (145 points) claiming the title.

Manu, the NAIA's fourth-ranked 197-pounder from Providence, R.I., won three matches by decision before being stopped in the semifinal round by Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez -- who claimed the gold medal. Manu lost twice in the wrestlebacks to place fifth.

Freshman Jacob Ekster (149 pounds) beat his first two foes to reach the quarterfinals before being sent to the back side by eventual finalist Dan Osterman of Michigan State with a narrow 2-1 decision. Ekster was eliminated in the next round, one shy of a medal.

Freshmen Brett Bader (184) and Gabbi Musallam (285) also won their first bouts and lost their second ones -- both in the championship and consolation brackets -- while after a first-round loss six-ranked senior Gian Traverso (165) reeled off three straight wrestleback victories before his day ended.

Junior Dan Mueller (285) also recovered from a loss in his opener to win three times, twice by fall before being beat again in the consolation quarters.

Sophomore Nico Martinez (157) had a wrestleback victory among his three matches.

In the latest rankings released Wednesday, Valley moved up two spots to No. 5 -- with nine grapplers in the top 12.

The Vikings will next be in action Jan. 11-12 in the NAIA National Duals at Springfield, Ill.

Women's Basketball

The Valley women's basketball team headed into the holidays with a four-game losing streak, including three non-conference road losses over five days.

The Lady Vikings played all of those games without two key players: junior guard Alexis Sweet -- the team's scoring leader (12.3 points per game) -- and senior guard Sami Jackson, a four-year starter. Valley didn't shoot above 37.5 percent from the field during the stretch, while averaging a minus 9.7 per-game turnover ratio.

The Lady Vikings only led once Friday during a 53-51 loss at Hannibal-LaGrange, although they never trailed by more than eight points.

Senior Gabi Morales got loose inside to put Valley ahead for the first time with 2:29 left in the contest, but the Lady Trojans produced the third tie within a two-minute span on a shot by sophomore Ashleigh Spencer.

The Lady Vikings had four chances to pull back in front, but twice missed the front end of one-and-one free-throw opportunities and committed a pair of turnovers. The teams traded baskets before a charity shot by sophomore Maddy Cunningham gave Hannibal-LaGrange (7-4) a two-point edge with four seconds remaining, with Morales' potential game-winning last-second three-pointer missing.

Senior Lindsi Jackson led Valley with 15 points and Morales provided 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

The Lady Vikings got into an overtime contest Saturday at Missouri Baptist, but were out-scored 20-4 during the extra period to fall, 73-57.

Valley was up by seven points at halftime, but it took only four minutes for the Lady Spartans to erase that margin. They didn't go in front, though, and the Lady Vikings got back in front by six points with nine minutes to go.

Baptist used a 12-4 run to get the lead with 2:45 left, but a Morales put-back tied it. Both teams were limited to a lone free throw down the stretch, but the Lady Spartans (3-8) used two MVC turnovers to begin OT with a 7-0 run and pulled away.

Morales had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Valley, with freshman Rayna Smith and sophomore Samantha Kixmiller combining for 17 points off the bench.

St. Ambrose (Iowa) was able to contain Morales, and the rest of the Lady Vikings' starters -- none of whom score more than four points -- during Tuesday's 57-51 decision.

Still, the game was tied at halftime and Valley trailed by only a point after junior Regine Mecenario buried a bomb with 2:20 left.

Down by two points, a Mecenario steal gave the Lady Vikings possession, but they couldn't convert on four cracks at the basket. Junior Lauren Cash sank two free throws for the Lady Bees (10-2), with 28 seconds to go, Valley turned the ball over and junior Ashley Dexter iced the win with two from the stripe.

Smith came up big for the Lady Vikings (4-10) with 15 points and five assists. Valley returns to action Jan. 3 by hosting Heart of America Conference rival Evangel.

Football

The Valley football team wound up ranked third in the final NAIA poll.

The Vikings rose as high as No. 2 during the season, winning their second straight Heart of America Conference title with a 9-0 league mark. They were undefeated through 12 games until beaten 20-17 by Marian (Ind.) on a last-second field goal in the NAIA Championship Series semifinal round at Gregg-Mitchell Field.

The Knights would go on to win the national title, 27-24 -- on an overtime field goal -- against Morningside (Iowa) on Dec. 13 at Rome, Ga.

The ranking was the highest to end a season for Valley, which was also No. 3 after reaching the semifinal round in 2006 and '07 -- dropping both games at Sioux City (S.D.).



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