Michael shines on Day 1 of NAIA Championships
DES MOINES, Iowa — Junior 149-pounder Chandler Michael will carry the torch for Southern Oregon University into the placing rounds of the NAIA Wrestling Championships after staying alive in the consolation brackets Friday at the Jacobson Exhibition Center.
Three Raiders were eliminated one win short of securing All-America status on Day 1 of the 61st annual tournament: Trey Long (125 pounds), Hunter Hodges (157) and Tanner Fischer (197). Michael, however, made it out with three straight consolation wins — including two by fall against higher-seeded opponents — and can finish anywhere from third to eighth place.
Wrestling starts up again today at 10 a.m. Central Time. Michael, seeded 11th, will face No. 5-seeded Richard Pocock of Hastings (Neb.), with the loser going to the seventh-place match.
SOU will enter the day 15th in the team standings with 24.5 points. Grand View (Iowa) is headed for its seventh consecutive title with 10 All-Americans and 98.5 points; second-place Cumberlands (Ky.) totaled 67.
In the tournament for the third year in a row, Michael was one win short of All-America recognition in 2017. His latest appearance started with a 5-0 win against Graceland's Brandon Seward, but he was shown to the consolation bracket by No. 6-seeded Steven Garcia of Morningside, 8-3. Michael then survived a 6-5 decision over Campbellsville's Michael Diemer before ending the night with back-to-back pins — in 1:18 against No. 4 Matt Landgraff of Oklahoma City, and in 3:40 over No. 8 Kyle Lee of Williams Baptist.
Michael, a third-place finisher at the Cascade Conference Championships, improved to 30-9.
His work gave the Raiders a dose of respite on an otherwise frustrating day, which included an early two-and-out for No. 4-seeded Devin Poppen at 141 pounds and the aforementioned knockouts of Fischer and Hodges, both returning All-Americans.
Long, a junior, was unseeded at 125 but came up just short against No. 7 Sawyer Miller of Indiana Tech in a 9-8 opener. In the consolations, he scored bonus points with a pin of Truett-McConnell's Devonte Upshaw in 2:51 and knocked off York's Pierce Mederios in a 10-6 decision. Grand View's Justin Portillo beat him for a spot in the placing rounds, 10-3.
Hodges, the only Raider to reach the quarterfinals, was also unseeded at 157 despite placing fourth last year and eighth the year before. He got started with the first big upset of the day, pinning No. 3 Jahwon Akui of Midland in 6:28, then cruised to the quarters with a 7-0 shutout of Cumberland's Shota Sisco. His run ended with back-to-back losses, 4-1 against No. 11 Kenny Boyd of Missouri Valley and by first-round fall against Southeastern's Dylan Chatterton.
Fischer, who was seeded No. 3 and placed seventh at 197 in 2017, opened with a 22-7 technical fall against Wayland Baptist's Riley Williams before becoming a 6-3 upset victim against Calumet's David Whitaker. He dominated his first two consolation matches — pinning Doane's Chandler Knight in4:43 and taking a 9-2 decision from Life's Diallo Matsimella — but was pinned in 2:11 by No. 8 Eric Deluse of Cumberlands for a spot in the placing rounds.