Wrestling team to host NAIA Central Regional

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The No. 14 Baker University wrestling team will return to Collins Center for the third and final time Saturday as the Wildcats host the NAIA Central Qualifying Group Tournament in Collins Center.

The Wildcats’ regional features four other top 20 nationally-ranked teams including: No. 1 Grand View, No. 7 Missouri Valley College, No. 9 Oklahoma City University and No. 16 William Penn University.

“We have a tough region,” Baker coach Jimmy May said. “Grand View (University) is the national champions. They have been the national champions two years in row, and there are some other great teams there.”

Earlier in the season, Grand View’s Eric Thompson was the top-ranked heavyweight wrestler in the NAIA. But during the Desert Duals in December, Baker’s Brandon Gebhardt defeated Thompson in a 5-3 decision in triple overtime. Gebhardt has since claimed three Heart of America Wrestler of the Week awards and stolen the nation’s No. 1 spot from Thompson.

Gebhardt fell to Thompson in the regional tournament and in the national championship match in 2012, but he will look to repeat his previous victory over the defending national champion Saturday.