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Bel­larmine Repeats as NCWA Champions

| Scott Farrell

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Bellarmine wrestlers won the 2024 NCWA Championships, pacing the field with six individual national champions leading the way to a 245.5-point effort and a second consecutive team title. The Knights’ point total and their six individual medals are second on both NCWA record lists.

Liberty finished as runner-up with 182 points followed by Thomas More (143.5), The Apprentice School (Va.) (125.5) and Lindenwood (123.5) in the top five. Bellarmine and Thomas More, among five others, are classified as transition programs wrestling within the NCWA postseason by invitation as they prepare to move into their NCAA classifications in the next two seasons.

Bellarmine is the second transition program to repeat at NCWA champions but the first since 2017 (Emmanuel College 2016-17). Knight wrestlers won 48 matches over the three-day tournament. Redshirt freshman Damion Ryan (125 pounds), freshmen Trayce Eckman (133), Gray Ortis (157) and Grant O'Dell (165), junior Cole Nance (174) and redshirt sophomore Sam Schroeder (184) all took home individual national titles. Nance is a repeat national champion.

In addition to the Knights’ title-winners, among its seven finalists were redshirt sophomore Zac Cowan, who took second at 149. Sophomores Chase Hall (141) and Thadd Huff (285) brought home third-place and fourth-place medals, respectively. Cowan and Hall each had four pins in the tournament.

Liberty has dominated the heavier weight classes in recent seasons and held to the tradition again as two of its wrestlers, Josiah Murphy and Rick Weaver, won their third national titles. Weaver topped Jonovan Smith, a wrestler at Caribbean University and a member of Puerto Rico’s upcoming Olympic Team, in the heavyweight final, 2-1. Weaver becomes the 39th four-time All-American in NCWA history and the fourth from Liberty.

Murphy won a 4-1 decision over Dubuque Wrestling Club’s Joseph Pineda in the 235 final. Murphy’s win gives Liberty a five-peat of NCWA titles at 235 following the recent success of Jeffrey Allen, who graduated last season having won four straight 235 titles.

The Flames finished with nine All-Americans with the two champions, two runners-up (freshman Aiden Scheeringa at 125 and graduate student Reid Stewart at 157) and single third-, fourth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-place finishers. Stewart fell to Bellarmine’s Ortis in extra time (7:44) in a hard-fought 157 final. Senior 165-pounder David Over is now a three-time All-American following an 18-6 major decision to take third place.

Thomas More had two national champions, sophomore Cole Thomas at 141 and fifth-year senior Ryan Moore at 149. Thomas rolled through the 141 bracket with four pins before outscoring Apprentice’s Bruno Alves in the title match, 16-10. Moore scored three pins in the 149 bracket and earned a 7-2 decision over Bellarmine’s Cowan for the national title. Daulton Mayer, a senior heavyweight, closed out his career with a first-period pin and a third-place finish in that class.

The other national title belonged to Utah Tech’s Cesar Ubico at 197 pounds. Ubico becomes the Trailblazers’ fourth all-time All-American and gives UTU at least one All-American in four of the last five seasons. Ubico, seeded ninth in the tournament, topped second-seeded Ryan Golnick of Lindenwood in the final, 8-6.

Apprentice took fourth overall but had several notable individual accomplishments as the Builders racked up a sixth-straight season with a top-five finish. Alves was its highest finisher with the second-place medal at 141 pounds, his third consecutive national runner-up finish, to close a three-time All-America career. Dillon Messick (133) and Zac Ortega (149) each posted fourth-place finishes in their class to also post three-time All-American honors.

West Chester won its first NCWA Division II championship behind fourth- and fifth-place finishes from Keaton Fischer and Matthew Micale among its eight qualifiers. West Chester edged the Ohio State WC, 57.5-56 for the trophy. OSWC’s Graham Carson placed third at 184. Clemson took third in Division II with 47.5 points.

Complete team scores and individual results can be found online at