Shires and Smith secure All-American status on Day One of National Championship
Friday, March 3, 2023
Shires and Smith secure All-American status on Day One of National Championship
Sammy Shires and Cole Smith earn All-American honors and advance to day two for the All-American rounds. (Credit: JT Oldknow)

WICHITA, Kan.--Cumberland Wrestling ends day one of the NAIA National Championships with two guaranteed All-Americans. Sammy Shires shined and Cole Smith earned his third All-American honors joining a short list of Cumberland Wrestlers to accomplish the feat. The Phoenix are currently in 16th place after day one. 

Cole Smith began his quest for back-to-back titles today starting his run off strong handling his first two matches rather easily. He started his day with a dominant tech fall victory over Hayden Baker from Oklahoma City and followed that with a big 16-3 decision over Bridger Hall from Providence to advance to the quarterfinals. Smith lost just his second bout of the season and third of his Cumberland career to 6-seed Rysan Long from Menlo in a 4-1 decision. Smith bounced back in the blood round to defeat 9th-ranked Gavin Smith from Campbellsville with a 5-1 decision to secure his third All-American honors. Smith will battle it out with Gavin SMith’s Campbellsville teammate Shadric Sloan tomorrow in his first match.  

Freshman Sammy Shires made some noise in first NAIA National Championship appearance. He pinned Hayden Williams from Missouri Valley in the first period to advance to the second round. He followed that with a 15-5 major decision over Kolby Encinas from Oklahoma Wesleyan to get to the quarters. In the quarters, Shires lost to 7-seed Evan Potter via a 5-2 decision to send him to the blood rounds. Shires bounced back to get a first period pin over 13-seed Alex Pena from Wayland Baptist to earn All-American honors. He is the first true freshman to earn All-American honors since 2019 when Nathan Walton accomplished it. Tomorrow, Shires will have his first bout with No. 6 seed Jovan Garcia from Menlo. 

River Henry received a first-round bye as the 16-seed in the heavyweight division. Henry had a tough draw having to face overall No. 1 seed Greg Hagen from Grand View in the second round. Hagan pinned Henry in the first sending him to the consolations. In the consolation second rounds, he had a familiar opponent in Byron Pierce from Midway, whom Henry had beaten twice in overtime already this season. Henry and Pierce would go to overtime yet again, this time Henry would get the pin to stay in the hunt. Henry’s season came to end one-match away from the blood rounds as David Toese from Graceland posted a 5-3 victory to best Henry and end his run. 

Jared Dinh started his tournament run by being pinned by 11-seed Kyle Kantola from Indiana Tech, but has battled through the consolations. He moved on with a tight 5-3 decision over Carson Coy and followed that by pinning 12-seed Bryce Nickel from the Cumberlands in the third period to stay alive. His tournament came to an end after Austin Kovlek from Ottawa held on for a 7-3 decision. 

Chris Busutil went 1-2 in the tournament losing his first match on a 8-1 decision to 9-seed Angel Banda. In the first round of the consolations he posted a major decision over Christian Vasquez to advance, but was ousted by 10-seed Esau Bazlime from Southeastern to end his season. 

Ryan Long, Austin Antcliffe, and Eli Clemmons each went 0-2. Long came in as the 11-seed started with a bye, but was defeated by 6-seed Chines Tsermaa from Doane 10-3 and then by the 12-seed Noah Hollendoller from Marian 9-3. Antcliffe dropped his opening match 10-2 to 10-seed Isaiah Morales and then lost a 8-4 decision to Austin Vanek from Montana State Northern. Clemmons had a battle in the opening round, but lost 7-6 to 9-seed Trevor Burdick from Reinhardt. He then received a bye in the consolation round, but dropped a 7-2 decision to Donald Griffin from Central Methodist. 

The action kicks off from Hartman Arena tomorrow at 10 a.m.