DES MOINES, IOWA – Five Blue Hawk wrestlers took to the mat to test their skills against the top talent in the NAIA this weekend. Gresh Jones received All-American honors for the Blue Hawks in his second trip to the National Championship.
At 133 pounds Gresh Jones, of Sidney, Mont., carried the torch for the Blue Hawks. Jones came into the contest as one of the best in his weight class. After his Heart of America (HoA) Conference title Jones continued his strong wrestling. As the third ranked wrestler Jones jumped out with a 15-3 major decision in his opening match. Jones continued with recording a technical fall victory in the second round. Jones continued his strong showing into the evening session. In the quarterfinal bout Jones faced Robert Ozuna of York College. The Blue Hawk was able to battle to a 7-5 victory.
The three wins placed Jones in the semifinal match Saturday morning against Erique Early of Indiana Tech. Jones lost a close match to Early, 6-3, forcing him into the consolation bracket. In his first match on the other side of the bracket Jones made quick work. An 11-2 win put Jones in the third-place match where he would have a rematch with Ozuna. In the second meeting of the two, Ozuna was able to defeat Jones 9-8.
Jones fourth place finish is the first All-American honor for the Blue Hawk wrestling program since the 2016 National Championship.
In the 197-pound weight class, Cody Johnson stumbled in his first match. Up against the ninth ranked wrestler in the bracket Johnson fell 13-6. But, he responded in the consolation bracket. Johnson came out and won a major decision 13-5 to stay alive. His next match came against Terry Martin of Missouri Valley next. Johnson defeated Martin in the HoA qualifier in the previous weekend with a major decision of 11-2. In the rematch of Johnson and Martin, the Blue Hawk came away with a narrow 5-4 decision. Johnson fell one match short of All American honors. He lost in a 12-6 decision finishing his season.
Mat Edward Hruby (125 pounds), Jamie Mullins (141 pounds), and Casey Jones (285 pounds) all fell out of the tournament in the first day. All three of the Blue Hawks were competing in their first National Championship and gained invaluable experience from the opportunity.