CollegeFrontier Conference


Providence to send 6, MSU-Northern 5 to NAIA men's wrestling national championships

Nick Kunz
Posted at 9:26 AM, Feb 21, 2021

(Editor's note: Cascade Collegiate Conference media release)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Cascade Collegiate Conference (CCC) announced the 32 individuals selected to represent the league and their institutions at the upcoming NAIA men’s wrestling national championship scheduled for March 5-6 in Park City, Kansas.

The University of Providence led the way with six selections, while Eastern Oregon University, Arizona Christian University, MSU-Northern and Vanguard University each have five. Corban University, Southern Oregon University and Warner Pacific University rounded out the talented group with three, two and one respectively.

Providence will be represented by Joel Avila at 125 pounds, Eli Walston at 133, Christian Mesa at 141, Brock Rodriguez at 149, Jordan Komac at 165 and KC Buday at 285.

Nick Kunz (133 pounds), Conner Harris (149), Chase Short (174), Carl Hansen (184) and Isaac Bartel (197) will represent MSU-Northern. Kunz is the reigning NAIA national champion at 125 pounds, while Bartel was the 197-pound runner-up at the 2020 national championships.

Keegan Mulhill, a 174-pound junior from Bozeman High, will also be one of the five Mountaineers representing Eastern Oregon at the national championships.

2021 CCC Men’s Wrestling National Qualifiers

Weight ClassFirst NameLast NameSchoolClass
125LucianoFasuloEastern OregonFr
125FranciscoBarreraSouthern OregonSr
125EliasGonzalesArizona ChristianSo
133JustinCoonSouthern OregonJr
141ChrisKellyArizona ChristianFr
141AustinWallace-ListerWarner PacificSr
149JackLatimerArizona ChristianFr
157AlexNewberryArizona ChristianFr
165AndrewTorresArizona ChristianSo
174KeeganMulhillEastern OregonJr
184KyleKnudtsonEastern OregonFr
197MarcoRetanoEastern OregonSr
285NoelOrozcoEastern OregonJr

Late last year, as a result of COVID-19, the NAIA adjusted the normal way a conference would be awarded qualifiers in men's wrestling, using the past three-year average for the conference. It was determined that allotments would be reduced if teams opt out of competition due to the pandemic. Originally the CCC was to be allotted 46 but Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Menlo College opted out of participation, which dropped the number of allocations to 32.

In lieu of a conference tournament, which was viewed as unlikely to be successful during the pandemic with such a large wrestling footprint covering Arizona, California, Oregon and Montana with limited participation opportunities, the league chose to identify the 2021 qualifiers through a combination of rankings and selection by head coaches. Athletes that were ranked in the top 15 in the last national poll were automatic qualifiers while the other qualifiers and alternates were nominated and voted on by the head coaches of each program.

Alternates would be tapped to attend in the event one of the 32 cannot participate due to illness or injury. The alternates would be selected prior to the start of nationals in rank order as shown below regardless of weight class.

"I want to thank all of the coaches for working through this process, in particular the sub-committee of Dustyn Azure (EOU), Tyson Thivierge (MSUN), Frank Johnson (WPU) and KC Rock (ERAU) who helped develop the protocols for the selection," stated commissioner Robert Cashell. "We all look forward to 2022 when we can return to providing a conference championship experience to our student-athletes."

2021 CCC Men’s Wrestling National Alternates

Weight ClassFirst NameLast NameSchoolClass
149DylanVeisMSU- NorthernSr
165JohnBittingerEastern OregonSo
165DevinCrawfordMSU- NorthernFr
157LaynePankuukSouthern OregonJr
149LucasHigginbothamWarner PacificSr
165NoahTalaveraSouthern OregonSo