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Upper Iowa places three on podium at NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships
Chase Luensman leads the Peacocks by reaching 165-pound semifinal
CEDAR RAPIDS — Upper Iowa exhibited its grit on a day nothing seemed to come easy.
The Peacocks’ fight helped produce a near flawless second session and secured three All-America finishes.
Third-seeded Chase Luensman powered into the semifinals, while Tate Murty and Colter Bye won consolation matches to place in the top eight Friday night at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.
Luensman went 2-0, scoring four takedowns in the last two periods for a 10-5 quarterfinal victory over Adams State’s Aaden Valdez. He is in the top four at 165 and a win away from the finals.
“That’s amazing,” Luensman said. “That’s a fantastic feeling but I’ve got two huge matches coming up tomorrow that I am really looking forward to.”
Luensman, a former Monticello prep and a National Wrestling Coaches Association All-America selection in 2020, is a three-time qualifier, but earned his first spot on the awards stand. He didn’t come this far just to come this far. Luensman wants to climb the podium as high as possible.
“We haven’t reached our goal, yet,” Luensman said. “It was a steppingstone. I’m going to go to bed grateful that I was able to accomplish that but at the same time I have more to do.”
Luensman is known as “The Machine” for the way he trains and his style of wrestling. He competes at a fast pace that constantly pressures opponents an entire match. It was evident when he scored takedowns in all three periods in his 7-2 opening win against Nebraska-Kearney’s Kaden Hart and as he got stronger as the match progressed against Valdez.
“That’s the machine mentality, getting the jitters out of you,” Upper Iowa Coach Heath Grimm said. “Some kids can do it better than others. Chase is a work in progress and he’s right there. After that win, he knows he’s the best wrestler and that’s the version we’ve seen the last couple matches.”
Murty rebounded after a lopsided quarterfinal loss to Lander (S.C.) University’s top-seeded and defending NCAA champion Zeth Brower. He posted a 6-3 decision over Wisconsin-Parkside’s Cayden Henschel to move into the top eight at 141, earning his second All-America honor in three seasons.
Bye gave the Peacocks three medalists. He rallied after a first-round loss to Lander’s fourth-seeded Logan Hall with two palpitation-inducing wins. Bye scored the final five points, including a takedown in sudden victory to beat UNC-Pembroke’s Shylik Scriven, 7-5, to reach the round of 12.
Bye trailed Chadron State’s Keegan Gehlhausen by two to start the third. He escaped and scored a takedown as time expired to win, 4-3.
Grimm said Bye wrestles tight matches and always has a shot. He dug deep to pull out both wins.
“Probably part of the secret sauce is he is more comfortable in those moments than his opponents,” Grimm said of Bye. “It’s all about trusting yourself. It’s been an evolution and has come to fruition the last three weeks. Trust in his offense, trust where he’s at and us as coaches getting comfortable with how he wrestles.”
Bye had to win a wrestle-off in sudden victory to cement his starting spot for the postseason. He followed it with a runner-up finish at the super regional. Bye is an All-American in his national tournament debut.
“We’re proud,” Grimm said. “Being an All-American at this level is a forever thing.”
Upper Iowa’s three All-Americans is the most at the national tournament since four captured medals in 2018 in Cedar Rapids.
Central Oklahoma led the team race after the first day. The Bronchos amassed 62 1/2 points with three semifinalists. They also have six alive in consolation rounds, giving them nine All-Americans.
Lander was second with 56 points, advancing four to the semifinals. The Bearcats have six All-Americans. St. Cloud State is a distant third with 38 points, a half-point ahead of fourth-place West Liberty (W.Va.) University. Western Colorado rounded out the top five in the team race.
Interestingly, Glenville State College claimed its first NCAA D-II All-America honor when 133-pounder Gavin Quiocho beat University of Mary’s Reece Barnhardt, 7-4, to reach the semifinals. The Pioneers doubled that total by the end of the first day. Heavyweight Jared Campbell beat Minnesota State’s former NCAA champion Darrell Mason, 6-2, to make the semifinals and join Quiocho on the awards stand.