Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Best To Not Qualify NAIA 2024

These are in my opinion the best wrestlers in the NAIA to not qualify for the national championship this season.  Opinions vary, so maybe yours's will be similar to mine or maybe yours's will be completely different.  Nonetheless, this is my list and why I feel that way. 

Seth I'nama
Briar Cliff
125 lbs 

I realize we live in a day in age where excuses are unacceptable, but you'd have to be outright stupid to not know something was deathly wrong with Seth I'nama at the GPAC championships. He was not at all himself.  I'm not sure if he was sick or injured, or what was up, but you don't go from having finishes of 4th & 2nd in years prior to hardly being able to stand in an upset loss.  I hate knowing the Alaska senior ended his career this way.  It's a part of the sport. things don't always end as they should. 

Braydon Boyd
125 lbs 

Sometimes you have a bad tournament.  It can sometimes be summed up that easily.  A runner up at the Cascade Collegiate Conference last season, this year Braydon Boyd slipped to a disappointing 7th place. Nonetheless, I still wouldn't call this a disappointing season, simply a disappointing end to the season. He was 5th at the prestigious Missouri Valley Invitational.  Has two more seasons of eligibility left. 

Lane Scorpil
William Penn
133 lbs 

The last NAIA qualifier for the now defunct Iowa Wesleyan Tigers, I really thought that Lane Scorpil would make it back to the dance this season, now representing the William Penn Statesmen. He finished in 4th place at the Heart of American Athletic Association, and unfortunately he wasn't selected as an at large bid.  Only a sophomore, I do think he'll make it the next two seasons. 

Blake Runion
133 lbs 

He's twice finished 6th in the Cascade Collegiate Conference & neither '23 or '24 saw him chosen as one of the at large bids to make it into the NAIA national tournament.  He was in a tough bracket that saw #11 Mario Sandoval of Vanguard not even place.  Realizing that not everyone is going to be picked to go to the dance, one has to accept that some are going to be left home.  Runion for the record, did have a 15-13 victory over CCC runner-up Simon Graeber of Southern Oregon earlier this season. 

Westyn Moyer
Rio Grande
149 lbs

I have a hard time making sense out of this one.  Westyn Moyer was in one of the toughest qualifying brackets of the NAIA, finishing 5th in the Mid-South Conference.  All four guys who placed ahead of him are All American candidates.  He was 4th last year & qualified, and he was ranked #16 going into the MSC. 

Blake Runion
157 lbs 

The only thing I can figure here is, sometimes having to medical forfeit is forgiven and sometimes it isn't.  That's all I can figure.  Case in point of where it was forgiven?  Carson Coy at 141 lbs in the Cascade Collegiate Conference. A champion last year who, didn't do so hot this year.  He was still selected for qualification, but unfortunately, Radosa was not.  8th in the Missouri Valley Invitational & a #18 ranking going into the WHAC, I don't see how anyone wouldn't agree that Rodosa is one of the best in the NAIA not to make the national tournament. 

Drew Torres
157 lbs 

Honestly, all things considered, I'm not that surprised that Drew Torres of Lourdes didn't make the cut.  However, I was hoping that he would, taking into account that he wrestled well at the WHAC championships.  There was no way he was getting past Nate Wheeler or Elijah Chacon of Indiana Tech.  That wasn't going to happen.  So the best he was gonna finish was 3rd and 3rd is exactly where he finished.  17 wins on the season & also 3rd at the Patriot Open, I was thinking those in charge might give him the nod.  They didn't. Nonetheless, I'd still be proud of how things ended.  A .500 record two seasons ago and a losing record last year, he really turned things around on his way out. 

Lane Miller
Dakota Wesleyan
174 lbs 

4th in the GPAC wasn't good enough for NAIA qualification in 2023 & I guess it wasn't good enough for NAIA qualification in 2024 either.  Lane Miller's  a tough wrestler, one I'd consider among the talent that unfortunately didn't make the dance this season.  He was 3rd in a rather tough Dakota Wesleyan Open. 


Garine Gibson
Central Methodist

If he had finished 3rd instead of 4th at the Heart of America Athletic Association, then Garine Gibson of Central Methodist would be an NAIA qualifier.  I'm surprised being ranked  #17, he wasn't selected.  He still has another season left & not that this always means anything, but two of the toughest HWTs in the conference are both seniors this year. 


These are my picks?  Who did I miss?  I thought about including Kelvin Coker of Texas Wesleyan, who was a AMC/SAC champ last year, who finished in 3rd place this year.  Yet I weighed how accurate of an assessment that would really be. Fair or unfair? I guess I'm still on the fence about it.  Kahlil Tucker of St. Thomas? He was 3rd in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.  Tough wrestler who also finished 5th at the Patriot Open.  

Give me your opinions.  Let me know who else you feel I should have included. 

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