Monday, January 22, 2024

2024 Missouri Valley Invitational Recap and Review


  The NAIA's B-E-S-T in-season tournament happened this past weekend & what a great tournament it was! The Missouri Invitational proved to be outstanding as usual, with a lot of great wrestling action! 

Brody Gee Wins 125 lbs Bracket

A fantastic performance out of the Spire this weekend. 5th a year ago, Brody Gee won the Missouri Valley Invitational title by first knocking off last year's runner-up Trevor Marsman 4-3 in the semi-finals & then besting Lourdes' Nick Rodriguez 17-6.   Lourdes was 4th last season & ironically enough Marsman came back to take 4th this season.  So in other words, they switched places on the award stand. 

Former Terrapin Now Viking, Wins 133 lbs Bracket 

Huge tournament win for former Maryland Terrapin Jackson Cockrell of Grand View, as he won a tough 133 lbs Missouri Valley Invitational.  Had to fight off a tough challenge from Briar Cliff's Ca'Ron Watson in the finals, in a decision that was won 7-5 by the Viking.  Watson himself finished out his final Missouri Valley Invitational now a three time place-winner with finishes of 4th-6th-2nd. 

Ice To Fire, Silver to Gold For Brisker

He traded in the freezing cold winters of Wilton, Iowa for the 66 degree Januarys of Lakeland, Florida. Kael Brisker also decided to do himself one better at the Missouri Valley Invitational this season as well.  Runner-up last year, he had a dominating performance in winning a title this tournament.  A very impressive 11-2 major decision over Cade Manion of Oklahoma City, he bested Bret Minor of Life 8-2 in the finals. Manion came back strong through the consolation, ending his day with a 15-0 technical fall over Donovan Parn of Missouri Valley.  Manion is now 6th-3rd-3rd within Mo Valley Invite performances. 

Former Cowboy, Now Viking Wins One For the Home Team

At the beginning of the season, when I first became aware that Chase Zollman was going to spend his final season at Missouri Valley, I said that I thought he would do great things for the Vikings this season.  The former Wyoming Cowboy, just dominated a very competitive bracket right up into the finals.  Two falls and two techs, his only competitive match was a tight 2-1 decision over Jace Laccau of Cumberlands.  Meanwhile, Cole Ferguson of Grand View who tied for 5th/6th place last season picked up a 4th place finish.  Bryce Nickel of Cumberlands picked up his third medal, as he now stands 4th-8th-6th in Missouri Valley Invite performances.  Drake Vannoy of Oklahoma City, who was 4th last year, placed 7th. 

Hawaiian/North Idaho NJCAA Comes Out of Nowhere to win Bracket with many Surprises

6th at last year's NJCAA championships competing for North Idaho, I was not expecting Kana'i Tapia of Menlo to come in here and dominate the way he did.  This was a bracket that featured four returning place-winners, including the champion & the runner-up!  Boy did Tapia make a statement for Hawaii high school wrestling, North Idaho & Menlo by winning this loaded bracket.  An 11-4 decision over David Rubio of Cornerstone in the finals.  Meanwhile last year's champion Dylan Whitt of Grand View took 3rd & last year's runner-up Don Griffin of Central Methodist came back to place fifth.  Elijah Chacon who was 3rd & Brent Hudgins who was 5th last season, didn't even place. Unreal how tough this bracket was & how it played out. 

Jonathan Kervin Wins 165 lbs Title for Indiana Tech

What an outstanding performance out of Warrior Jonathan Kervin of Indiana Tech.  Pulls off a huge 4-3 decision over last year's champion Rysan Leong of Menlo in the semis & then nearly majors Justin McCunn of Grand View in the finals 10-3.  Leong was then upset again in the consolation finals, bested 4-2 by true freshman Hunter Hobbs of Providence.  

I was excited to see Cam Hargrove take a very impressive 5th place finish, giving Coach Aron Scott & the Statesmen of William Penn a Missouri Valley Invitational place-winner. 

It's Bronze, Now Gold For This Argo

3rd at last year's Missouri Valley Invitational, it was all gold for Abel Nava this season.  Scored a dominating 8-0 major decision over Danill Gorshkov of Embry Riddle in the finals.  Tre Morrisette of Life, who was 8th at last year's championships, took 4th, falling 5-1 to Graham Calhoun of Southeastern. 

Bulldog? Eagle? Either Way He's Still Runnin' and He's Our 184 lbs Missouri Valley Champion 

Former Gardner Webb Runnin' Bulldog, now Life Runnin' Eagle, Kyle Homet won what I consider to be the most competitive of our weight classes here at the Missouri Valley Invitational.  Scored a smart 4-0 decision over William Speight of Lourdes, who was 6th at last year's championships, in the finals.   Meanwhile Kyle Knudtson of Eastern Oregon, who was 8th last year, came back to grab 3rd place with a 2:41 fall over Northwestern's (IA) Luke Jenness.

Speaking of Jenness, I was very happy to see him earn a medal here, as he's been around for a long time, and it's about time the senior had a good showing at a prestigious tournament such as this.  Brett Bober of Baker became a three time place winner as Isaiah Morales of Menlo picked up his second medal.  Bober is now 6th-7th-5th, as Morales is 4th-6th. 

Viking Upends Last Year's Champ to Win A Title of his own at 197

Garavous Kouekabakilaho (say that name 5 times fast) who was 3rd at last year's Missouri Valley Invitational wrestled a very intelligent match, taking out last year's champ Malachia Karibo of Baker 7-1 in the finals.  Meanwhile teammate Trayvonn Jackson of Grand View dominated his way to a 3rd place finish with a 15-3 major decision over Elijah Hynes of host Missouri Valley in the consolation finals.  What threw me off here most was Jay Smith of Eastern Oregon, 5th at last year's championships, failing to place. 

Isaac Wins Another Title For Host Missouri Valley

One of the most heartbreaking moments for me last season was when two time NAIA All American Joshua Isaac lost in the R12 at nationals to come up a hair short of his third All American honor.  You have moments as a diehard wrestling fan that suck the soul out of you & that was one of those moments for me.  When I learned that he had another year of eligibility the life was breathed back into me & I had a feeling that once he got rolling, he'd prove himself to be one of the top in the NAIA at HWT.  He more than did this weekend.  4th two seasons ago & 3rd last year, he ends his final home tournament with a title.  A 7-1 win over Jacob Jerabek of Morningside in the finals. 

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