KANSAS CITY, Mo. – (Qualifiers by Weight Class | Qualifiers by School | Qualifiers by Conference) The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has officially announced the qualifiers for the 2023 NAIA Wrestling National Championships hosted at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kan. The 66th annual event features four sessions and starts on March 3rd before ending on ESPN3 during the Championship bouts on Saturday, March 4th.
The Phoenix have eight student-athletes qualify for the NAIA National Championships, seven of the Phoenix automatically qualified based on their placement at the Mid-South Conference Championships last weekend:
- Chris Busutil - Automatic Qualifier
- Sammy Shires - Automatic Qualifier
- Jared Dinh - Automatic Qualifier
- Eli Clemmons - Automatic Qualifier
- Cole Smith - Automatic Qualifier
- Ryan Long - Automatic Qualifier
- Austin Antcliffe - At-Large Qualifier
- River Henry - Automatic Qualifier
Cumberland will field an athlete in eight of the ten weight classes at the NAIA National Championships while returning two student-athletes that have competed at the National Championships prior, two-time All-American and National Champion Cole Smith and River Henry.
Each conference tournament was awarded automatic bids per weight class based on the final regular-season poll, which can be seen HERE. Each conference was awarded automatic berths based on the amount of wrestlers ranked in each weight class. Each conference was awarded a minimum of one automatic bid per weight class, which will go to the tournament individual champions, even if the conference did not have any wrestlers ranked in the final regular-season poll.
After the conference tournaments concluded, an 18-member committee consisting of conference raters and oversight members met to select the remaining national at-large qualifiers. In total, 36 student-athletes were selected by at-large classification. The seeding and preliminary brackets will be announced on NAIA.org by 5 p.m. (CST) on Friday, February 24.
Grand View (Iowa), Indiana Tech, and Southeastern (Fla.) will travel 12 wrestlers to the national championships. Life (Ga.), Morningside (Iowa), and Ottawa (Kan.) will bring 11 wrestlers total; Campbellsville (Ky.) and Menlo (Calif.) will bring along 10 each.
The Cascade Collegiate Conference led all conferences with 57 individual qualifiers. The Heart of America Athletic Conference was second with 43 student-athletes while the Mid-South Conference was just behind with 42.
For additional information on the 2023 NAIA Men's Wrestling National Championships, click HERE.