PREVIEW No 1 Dana seeks first NAIA championship
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - It is the tiny NAIA school located roughly 20 miles north of Omaha.
But Dana College is not so anonymous anymore.
The Blair, Neb., campus has been buzzing with excitement ever since the Vikings won the National Duals in January. That gave Dana its first national championship in any sport.
Now the Vikings take aim at an even bigger prize. Bringing home their first-ever championship trophy from the NAIA National Tournament Friday and Saturday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
"I'm extremely excited about this year's tournament," said Dana coach Steve Costanzo, a former All-American at Nebraska-Omaha. "All of these young men have been training for this moment their entire careers. I like our chances, but you can bet it's going to be a shootout."
Dana can expect tough challenges from No. 2 Dickinson State, No. 3 Cumberland, No. 4 Menlo College and No. 5 Lindenwood.
The Vikings have already set school records for dual wins and they won regionals for the fourth time in five years.
"It's been a great year," Costanzo said. "But it won't be complete without a national championship."
Dana enters the meet with nine ranked wrestlers, including senior Jimmy Rollins (133). Rollins placed third at nationals last year. The Vikings have 12 qualifiers.
Also making the trip for Dana are Craig Trampe (125), Burke Barnes (125), Terrence Almond (141), Jason Lozier (149), Anthony Haukenberry (149), Ben Henderson (157), Scott Taylor (157), Trent Leichleiter (165), Marshall Marquardt (174), Willie Parks (184), and Blair Alderman (197).
Parks won a junior-college national title for Iowa Central and is ranked No. 1 in NAIA.
Dickinson State (N.D.) is ranked second and is led by national champion Tyson Springer (165).
Other top-ranked wrestlers in NAIA include Delrico Choates (125), Brad Cooper (141) and Eric Flinchum (197) of Cumberland, Kyle Jahn of McKendree (133), Darren Cotton of William Penn (149), Mike Rio of Lindenwood (157), Jimmy Grochowsky of Southern Oregon (165), Gabe Harry of Dickinson State (174), and Mikail Abdul-Latiff of Simon Fraser (heavyweight).