DES MOINES, Iowa –The top-ranked team in the preseason has lived up to that billing all season long, and the King University women's wrestling team proved they are #1 once again on Sunday at the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals. The Tornado topped #4 Wayland Baptist University 36-7 in the semifinals, setting up a clash with #2 Simon Fraser University in the finals. King narrowly defeated the Clan 21-19 in the finals to take the championship.
In the semifinals against Wayland Baptist, the Tornado got off to slow start, and were trailing 4-1 after the first bout. However, King came back with a vengeance, winning five straight matches to gain control of the dual. Samantha Klingel took a 10-0 tech fall in over Michelle Guerrero at 109, and Haley Augello defeated Lauryn Bruggnik by the same score at 116.
Sarah Hildebrandt gave King a 13-4 lead with a 10-0 tech fall win before Megan Black beat Tarkyia Mensah on a fall in 2:37 at 130 pounds. Alli Ragan capped the run with a 10-0 tech fall win over Samantha Villegas at 136 pounds. Julia Salata and Lorrie Ramos then earned tech fall wins, 10-0 and 11-0, respectively. Malexis McAdoo capped the 36-7 win with a win by fall in 2:03 at 190 pounds, advancing the Tornado to the finals.
The Tornado then faced second ranked and defending Women's Collegiate Wrestling Association (WCWA) National Champions Simon Fraser in the finals. The Clan got off a quick start, winning the 101 and 109 pound bouts to take an early 8-0 advantage. However, Augello and Hildebrandt brought the Tornado back, both taking wins by tech fall at to even the score at 8-8.
Simon Fraser then held a 12-8 lead before Ragan, Amanda Hendey and Salata all earned victories to give King a 20-12 lead. Ragan topped Mallory Velte on a tech fall, 10-0 before Hendey defeated Maegan Kuruvita on a fall in 1:39. Salata then took a 6-0 decision over Monika Podgoski to stretch King's lead to eight points with two matches left.
Simon Fraser didn't go away easily however, as Justina Distasio took the next bout at 170 to cut the deficit to 20-16 going into the 191 pound match. The final bout came down to the final seconds as the Clan's Jenna Mclatchy made a furious comeback to even the match with McAdoo at 12-12 when time expired. Mclatchy won a tiebreaker to give Simon Fraser three points as McAdoo earned one for the Tornado to make the final score 21-19 in favor of King.
"I am proud of what these ladies accomplished. Looking back at what we have done and where we have come from the start of this program," head coach Jason Moorman said. "It was a team effort from top to bottom, and Simon Fraser is a very tough opponent. We are going to enjoy this tonight and tomorrow, and Monday we are going to continue to improve and prepare for individual national championships in two weeks in St. Louis."
The title marks King's first as the finished third at the event a season ago, and second in 2012.
The Tornado wrap up the WCWA season in two weeks when the travel to St. Louis, Mo., for the WCWA College Nationals. The event will take place at Missouri Baptist University on January 24 and 25.