Lords wins fourth-straight championship at 197 pounds
ST. CHARLES, Mo. The Montana State University-Northern wrestling team's reign atop the NAIA is officially over.
Despite Turk Lords's securing his place in history with his fourth straight title at 197 pounds, the Lights were hampered by inexperience and a disqualification of a wrestler en route to a fifth-place finish at the NAIA national tournament this past weekend.
With a fourth title within reach, Lords easily dispatched of Southern Oregon's Wesley Balensifer in a 12-2 decision in the title match.
In addition to becoming the sixth-ever NAIA wrestler to win four championships over the course of his collegiate career, Lords earned the most outstanding wrestler award and the Gorrarian award for the most pins in the least amount of time.
"He did an excellent job," Northern coach David Ray said of Lords. "He went through and gave Northern a bright spot with four national titles. It was very nice for an individual deserving of it. He finished on a good, positive note."
Southern Oregon claimed the team title with 158 points, followed by Missouri Valley with 151.5. Northern was fifth with 106.5 points, but the Lights would have finished third if not for an extremely costly mental error by 133-pounder Caleb Schaeffer.
In Schaeffer's match for third and fourth place, Lindenwood's Brant Bruner tackled the Lights wrestler out of the ring. Rather than stopping after the whistle, Schaeffer lost control and began working on Bruner's head.
The official disqualified Schaeffer for flagrant misconduct, stripping him of any chance to place at the tournament. However, the move was much more devastating to Northern's hopes at a top-3 finish.
The disqualification meant the points the 133-pounder earned during the tournament would no longer be counted toward Northern's overall placing. That translated into finishing behind the University of Mary and Lindenwood third and fourth, respectively in the overall standings rather than ahead of them.
Ray did not disagree with the officials' decision to remove Schaeffer from the tournament.
"He lost his control and got on the kid's head a little too hard after the whistle," Ray said. "(The officials) were right. He lost control and it was unnecessary.
"He knows he reacted out of impulse. Now he's realized what he's done, too. It was an expensive team lesson."
Before the tournament, Ray said he was looking at four athletes to lead the team Lords, Jason Fratzke, Tyson Thivierge and Abel Valdez. Those athletes, however, did not pick up as many points as the head coach hoped.
Thivierge placed third at 184 with a 9-3 win over Luigi Bianco of Simon Fraser in the consolation final.
Valdez defeated Dakota Wesleyan's Justin Portenier 9-5 to place third at 125.
Fratzke, the tournament's top seed at 141, suffered a 12-5 quarterfinal loss to Embry-Riddle's Johnny Hurtado and didn't recover. He was eliminated with a 3-1 loss to Missouri Valley's Lukie Christian and did not place.
Emmett Willson finished third at 174, defeating Southern Oregon's Zachary Mock 7-5 in his final match.
Northern's 165-pounder, Kyle Fisher, finished fourth overall after a 5-2 defeat in the consolation final at the hands of Hiram Heysinger of Mount St. Claire.
Dustyn Azure placed fourth at 149 pounds, falling 9-5 to Lindenwood's Jeff Carlson in the match for third and fourth place.
Heavyweight Dane Jacobsen placed eighth overall after being pinned in the first round against Dakota Wesleyan's Chad Johnson.
Other Northern wrestlers competing in the tournament but not placing were Brent Riggin (149), Neil Samoy (157) and Bobby Mantle (157).
"This was a rebuilding year," Ray said, noting the team's roster at the tournament included six freshmen. "When you get eight All-Americans out of 12 wrestlers, that's very good. But it takes the whole team to win a national title."