Bleaken, Dotson All-Americans; Knox Academic All-American
Thursday, March 8, 2007

The NAIA National Wrestling Tournament is very unique. It is the only collegiate national championship that allows wrestlers to compete against each other. Cumberland University entered two wrestlers at the 149 weight class and the 184 weight class in the NAIA National Championships. Both of Cumberland's All-Americans came at the 149 weight class. The two wrestlers' per weight uniqueness helped the Bulldogs place 16th, which will ensure them an invitation to the NAIA National Duals in 2008.

The 50th annual NAIA National Wrestling Tournament in the Tyson Events Center (Sioux City, Iowa) brought home All-Americans Corey Bleaken (3rd place) and Theo Dotson (8th place) for Cumberland University. Dotson had a first-round match, defeating J.T. Heckler from Briar Cliff University in Iowa by major decision, 16-3. Bleaken had a first-round bye. In the second round of the championship, Bleaken advanced to the quarterfinals by scoring a 16-0 technical fall in 6:34 over Benjamin Icalia from Southern Oregon University. Dotson advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-4 win in sudden victory overtime over Byron Kuylen from Montana State University Northern, who was ranked eighth in the last NAIA National Poll. In the quarterfinals, Bleaken had a pin in 5:30 over Chris Keating from Northwestern College, Iowa. Dotson fell in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion, Brad Stockton from Waldorf College, Iowa, 7-1. Bleaken fell short in a very exciting semifinals match that ended with Bleaken getting a desperation throw on his opponent, Darren Cotton from William and Penn, Iowa. Bleaken was awarded a takedown for the throw but only got a one count for back points as time ran out. Dotson had a 6-3 win to advance to the consolation quarterfinals over Jon Muri from Montana State University Northern, earning All-American honors. Dotson then dropped an 8-4 decision in the consolation quarterfinals to Dustin Center from the University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky. Bleaken then wrestled Center and won by major decision, 15-3, to advance to the consolation finals. Bleaken won his consolation finals match for 3rd place over Chris Seta from Campbellsville University, Kentucky, 3-1. Bleaken is the school's first freshman to be named All-American. Dotson lost in overtime 7-6 to Trace Billet from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Arizona for 8th place.

Kyle Knox was honored at the National Tournament as Cumberland University's wrestling program's 9th Daktronics scholar athlete. The qualifications for All-America Scholar Athlete status is as follows: a 3.5 GPA on a 4.0 scale, junior or senior status academically, attendance at the nominating institution for a minimum of one full year and certification as eligible on the certificate submitted to the conference/region eligibility chair. Knox is a junior who transferred to Cumberland University with grades that did not allow him to compete in the first semester. He made an immediate change at Cumberland and now has a 3.54 cumulative GPA, majoring in Business Administration.

At 184, Eric McCray and Luke Borneman contributed to the 16th-place finish by picking up wins in consolation matches. McCray had a first-round win over Tyler Phipps from York College, Nebraska, 22-10. McCray then lost a close 5-2 bout to Joffre Lander from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Borneman fell in the second round to Chase Locke from Southern Oregon University. In the consolation round, Borneman and McCray had pins right next to each others' mats within several seconds of one another. McCray was on the mat first and pinned Miguel Ponce from York College in 6:17. Borneman's fall came in 2:30 over Zach Anderson from Morningside College, Iowa. McCray and Borneman lost in the next round to end their tournament run for All-American honors.