PUEBLO, Colo. – Adams State senior Luke McPeek (Albuquerque, N.M.) came from behind to force a sudden victory period in the 197-pound championship match at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships Saturday night, and scored a 14-12 victory to claim his first individual championship and was also named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament, while Grizzlies Ryan Fillingame (Victorville, Calif.) and Josh Hensley (Alamosa, Colo.) each earned all-American honors during the morning session.
Ranked eighth in the final DII poll of the season, the Grizzlies finished tied for eighth at the NCAA Championships alongside North Carolina-Pembroke, as each tallied 42.5 points. The University of Nebraska-Kearney dominated the team field with 107.0 points for its first team title, while runner-up St. Cloud State (Minn.) racked up 95.0 points. Findlay (Ohio) and Grand Canyon (Ariz.) tied for third with 58.0 points, followed by fifth place Newberry with 46.0. Sixth place was shared between Upper Iowa and Wisconsin-Parkside with 45.5 points, while Augustana (S.D.) and Central Oklahoma tied for 10th with 41.5.
The Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament award, voted on by the National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA), was bestowed upon McPeek after he came back to force overtime and eventually defeat previously unbeaten and top-ranked Daniel Scanlan of Limestone (S.C.) for the title.
McPeek trailed 6-0 in the first period after getting taken down and then giving up a pair of 2-point near falls. But McPeek scored a first period reversal, and then tallied a take down of his own after a Scanlan escape with no time left in the first to cut the gap to 4-7 at the end of one period.
Scanlan started down in the second period and extended his lead to 10-4 with an escape and take down. McPeek answered back with an escape but was quickly taken down and put in a seven point hole, 5-12. Once again, however, McPeek managed to get out and scored two points on a take down with not enough time left for Scanlan to reply with an escape, and McPeek was down just 8-12 entering the third.
The only four points of the final period of regulation were scored by McPeek. After starting down, the Grizzly senior cut the margin to three points with an escape before a take down with 1:25 left made it 11-12. At that point, Scanlan held a riding time advantage of 1:20, but McPeek stayed on top for the remainder of the match to negate the riding time, and earned a point for stalling in the process to knot the bout up at 12-12 and force a one minute sudden victory period.
Each recorded three take downs during regulation, but Scanlan was the first to shoot in the overtime. McPeek managed to block the shot, and circled around to score the championship take down. Now a 3-time all-American, including twice for Adams State, McPeek ends his senior season with a mark of 28-4.
McPeek becomes the first individual NCAA DII champion for Adams State since 2009, when current Grizzly assistants Arsenia Barksdale and Kyle Sand were each crowned champions.
McPeek’s lone bout of the Saturday morning session came against King (Pa.) College’s Charles Morgan, ranked sixth individually in DII. McPeek, ranked No. 4, scored a 3-2 win which set up his match with Scanlan.
The only other Grizzly wrestler to enter Saturday still competing in the championship bracket was junior 133-pounder Fillingame, where he faced DII’s top-ranked Trevor Franklin of Upper Iowa in a semifinal match-up and suffered a 1-4 loss.
Fillingame would rebound from his only loss of the tournament with back-to-back wins in the consolation bracket. After a 2-1 win over 6th-ranked Michael Magaha of Limestone, he scored a 4-2 victory over
Kutztown’s (Pa.) Evan Yevelovich in the third place match. For Fillingame the all-American honors are the first of his collegiate career.
Hensley started day two of the championships in the consolation bracket against Ethan Swope of Gannon (Pa.), and came up just on the short end of a 2-3 decision. The loss dropped Hensley into the seventh place match, where the 149-pound senior hung on for 12-10 win over Marc Huff of Ashland (Ohio).
The win gave Hensley his second career all-American accolades in three trips to the NCAA DII Championships.
Adams State’s eighth place team finish was its first top 10 showing since 2009 when the Grizzlies wrapped up a 3-year stretch of fifth place finishes.