TOPEKA, Kans. — Cumberland’s Jake Williams fell behind in the first period but then completely dominated in the final two, winning the program’s third individual national title with a 9-2 decision at 149 over Bethany [Kans.] College’s Colby Crunk in the 57th annual NAIA Championships at the Kansas Expocentre.
Crunk picked up a takedown in the second minute of the first period and led, 2-1, but Williams had an escape to start the second period and then a pair of takedowns later in the middle of the bout. He added a near fall and riding time in the last period, adding his name to the wall of champions along with Keith Cupp (2005) and Cody Bleaken (2011).
Junior Cody Linton also battled for the national championship on Saturday night, facing Lindsey Wilson’s top-ranked Jameel Bryant. In a very eventful first period, both wrestlers scored a takedown and an escape and were tied, 3-all.
Bryant escaped to start the second period and then collected a takedown midway through the segment for a 6-4 advantage. Linton picked up an escape at the beginning of the final period but was unable to post the winning points before time ran out. It marked the fifth one-point decision to Bryant in the last two seasons, including two each in the NAIA East Region qualifier and the national tournament.
Cumberland finished sixth as a team, the highest finish in program history for the Bulldogs, with 59.5 points. The Bulldogs will have three All-Americans for the second straight year as well, with Williams, Linton and senior Zeke Hunt.