Grand View men's wrestling program wins 10th national team championship in 11 years

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

The Des Moines wrestling dynasty emphatically continued its reign this weekend.

The Vikings won the team title at the 2022 NAIA men's wrestling national championship this weekend in Kansas, totaling 206.5 team points. It is their 10th national team title in program history, which is also the most in NAIA men's wrestling history.

All 10 team titles have come in the last 11 years, and the only blip during that stretch was last year's second-place finish to Life University. The Eagles could not match the Vikings' fierce pace this weekend, finishing second with 149 points.

Grand View took 12 wrestlers to this weekend's two-day competition and will bring home 11 All-Americans. Six of them reached Saturday night's finals, and three won titles: Esco Walker at 125 pounds, Israel Casarez at 157 and Casey Randles at 174.

Collectively, Grand View wrestlers posted a 50-12 overall record, with 11 pins, 4 technical falls, and 9 major decisions. The Vikings put all 12 qualifiers into the quarterfinals and 10 into the semifinals.

Grand View's performance is also historic. The Vikings' 206.5 team points marks just the fourth time any NAIA team has cracked 200 points at the NAIA men's wrestling national championships. Grand View has done it all four times, scoring 210 in 2016, 234.5 in 2017 and 219 in 2019.

More:How Omi Acosta, a national champ wrestler for Grand View, built another NAIA power at Life U

One more historic note: Justin Portillo took third at 125 pounds to become the first five-time All-American in NAIA history, an accomplishment made possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Portillo and Isaac Bartel, a Mason City native who wrestles for Montana State-Northern, both became five-time All-Americans (Bartel took second at 197).

Grand View's Justin Portillo, a Clarion-Goldfield-Dows graduate

Iowa junior colleges shine at NJCAA championships in Council Bluffs

Five Iowa junior colleges finished in the top-10 of the team race at the 2022 NJCAA national championships, which were contested on Friday and Saturday in Council Bluffs.

Iowa Central finished second, scoring 127 team points. They finished behind Clackamas, which scored 136.5. Northeast Oklahoma A&M finished third (118), followed by Western Wyoming (116.5) and NIACC (109). Iowa Western took sixth (106), Indian Hills took eighth (88) and Ellsworth took 10th (59).

Five of the 10 champions crowned were from Iowa junior colleges. Even more, 10 of the 20 finalists and 25 total All-Americans were from Iowa junior colleges. 

Two from Iowa Central won titles: Keaton Geerts (149) and Jorden Pryor (285). Geerts, a New Hampton grad and one-time Northern Iowa wrestler, went 5-0 with three pins, a technical fall and a 9-0 major decision over Pratt's Jake Beeson in the finals. Pryor went 4-0 with two pins, a major and a 10-3 win over Pratt's Devon Dawson in the finals.

NIACC also finished with two champs: Christian Minto (165) and Jose Valdez (197). Minto went 4-0 and collectively outscored his four opponents 48-14. Valdez went 5-0 with two technical falls and collectively outscored his opponents 53-14.

Iowa Western's Josh McFarland also won a title, at 184 pounds. He went 5-0 with a technical fall and two major decisions and outscored his opponents 60-18.

Felicity Taylor, left, wrestles Melanie Mendoza at 53 kg during the first session of the USA Wrestling Olympic Trials, Friday, April 2, 2021, at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

South Winn's Felicity Taylor earns national runner-up honors at NCAA women's national championships

Felicity Taylor, a South Winneshiek graduate who now stars in McKendree's stacked women's wrestling lineup, finished second at the NCAA women's national championships in Michigan this weekend.

Taylor stormed into the finals at 116 pounds, winning her first three matches all by 10-0 technical falls — over Ganon University's Nikoly Dos Santos in the second round; over Emmanuel College's Kasey Baynon in the quarterfinals; then, in the semifinals, over Presbyterian College's Jaslynn Gallegos.

In Saturday afternoon's championship match, Taylor fell to Simon Fraser's Karla Godinez-Gonzalez, 3-1. In the first period, Godinez-Gonzalez earned a point for passivity, then added a takedown with 15 seconds remaining. Taylor added her own passivity point in the second period, but could not add a takedown.

Taylor's decorated collegiate career now includes four trips to the national finals. She finished second three times — she also lost to Godinez-Gonzalez in the 2020 national finals — and won a title last year.

Taylor also helped lead McKendree to the team title this weekend in Michigan. The Bearcats totaled 188 team points. King University finished second with 166, followed by Simon Fraser with 145.5.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.