LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The fourth-ranked University of Nebraska at Kearney wrestling team fell to fifth-ranked McKendree (Ill.), 24-15, and sixth-ranked Central Oklahoma, 18-13, to place fourth at the NWCA Multi-Division National Duals on Saturday at Louisville.
The Lopers (5-4), trying to win this event for a third time, won both their duals Friday to reach Saturday’s semifinals. On Saturday against the MU Panthers, UNK got out to an 11-0 lead but McKendree won six of the last seven matches to reach the title match.
In the third place dual, MIAA rival Central Oklahoma secured a win thanks to consecutive wins between 174 and 197 pounds. The Bronchos were docked a team point but UNK couldn’t overcome those three straight victories and two overtime setbacks.
Top-ranked Josh Portillo started the day with a dominating 11-5 win over second-ranked Marcus Povlick. He had three takedowns, a reversal and a two-point near fall to reach that point total. However, UCO’s sixth-ranked Tanner Cole rallied from a 4-2 first period deficit to win 8-6 in the first sudden-victory period.
Juniors Wesley Dawkins (133 pounds) and Jonathan Killingsworth (141) won their matches against the Bronchos by a combined 7-3 score while top-ranked Matt Malcom had a 10-1 major at 165 pounds. But UCO won all the other classes, including a 3-1 overtime decision by second-ranked Heath Gray over grad transfer Anthony Mancini at 184 pounds. Both wrestlers had an escape before Gray recorded a takedown in extra time.
The McKendree dual featured dominating wins by Dawkins and Killingsworth but second-ranked Nick Foster edged Malcom, 4-1, as did 10th-ranked Caleb Gossett against second-ranked heavyweight Jarrod Hinrichs, 3-2. Foster used a reversal and two-point near fall in the final 34 seconds to pull the slight upset while Gossett had a second-period takedown and riding time to down Hinrichs.
UNK heads to Central Missouri on Thursday to start MIAA action.