Cumberland’s Jake Williams and Zeke Hunt are both on the top line in their weight class and Cody Linton is the top seed in the bottom half of his bracket as six Bulldog grapplers prepare for the 57th annual NAIA Championships that begin today at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan.
Williams is undefeated this season against NAIA competition, posting a 32-2 overall record, and is ranked second at 149 heading into Friday’s competition. The Rio Rancho, N.M., native received a first-round bye and will take on Concordia’s Enrique Barajas in the round of 16. Williams is a two-time All-American, earning the accolade as a freshman at Concordia before placing sixth last season at Cumberland.
Hunt has compiled a 24-9 mark at 174 and is ranked fifth nationally. The Dacula, Ga., will take on the winner of Missouri Valley’s Riley Boomer and Northwestern College’s Luis Rivera-Santiago in the round of 16. Hunt finished eighth last year for the Bulldogs, garnering his first All-America honor.
Linton is ranked No. 2 at 184 after registering a 16-3 record this academic year. The Winters, Calif., native will face the winner of Hastings College’s Joel Hernandez and Oklahoma City’s 11th-ranked Cody Sivertsen in the round of 16 as well. Linton placed fourth overall last season, dropping a 5-4 decision in the main draw semifinals.
Freshman Kyle Delaune will battle the winner of Concordia’s 10th-ranked Austin Felhafer and Embry-Riddle’s 15th-ranked Jose Cruz III in the round of 16 at 174, while Jacob Shirley takes on Hannibal-LaGrange’s 15th-ranked Grant Godfrey at 165 and Scott Stewart faces Grand View’s 10th-ranked AJ Mott at 197.
Links for live scoring through TrackWresling and live video through the NAIA may be found at www.GoCumberlandAthletics.com.