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Grand View claims another national wrestling title

LOUISVILLE — It was a perfect finish to a perfect day for top-ranked Grand View at the NWCA Multi-Divisional National Duals here Saturday.

The Vikings finished off their ninth consecutive title run, shutting out Life, 40-0 inside the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Three former Messenger-area standouts were part of the performance, as Justin Portillo, Shea Ruffridge and Tanner Abbas secured a total of 10 individual wins.

“Winning nine dual national titles in a row is nothing short of crazy,” Ruffridge said. “But we are just focused on the next thing now.”

In the finals, Portillo, a former state champion for Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, pinned Chase Ayers in 1:36 to get Grand View off to a quick 6-0 start.

Portillo, a junior, also earned three decisions at 125 pounds.

Ruffridge, who won gold for Pocahontas Area, claimed a major decision at 133 pounds vs. Tramon Jenkins, 13-2. A redshirt freshman, he also picked up a technical fall and another pin during earlier action.

“I felt really good all weekend and just fed off of my teammates and coaches around me,” Ruffridge said. “We have a great group of coaches and a great group of guys that just makes things easier. It’s awesome.”

Abbas, a medalist for Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, topped Denver Stonecheck, 8-4, at 149 pounds. The redshirt freshman also had a pin, a technical fall and lost via decision.

“It was quite an awesome experience for me,” Abbas said. “Being a redshirt freshman, this is the first year where I’ve gotten a taste for high-quality competition on the national level and I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunities that I have had to put me in the position to help our team win its ninth dual title.”

Abbas led Grand View with 49 match points, with Ruffridge recording 34 and Portillo 18. As a team, the Vikings collected eight falls and three technical falls while scoring 295 team points.

“I’m looking forward to getting back into the room Monday and keep making adjustments and continuously striving to see how good I can be,” Abbas said. “As for the team, we work hard all year round. Tournaments like this are just a ‘pay day’ to show off the work that we put in.

“Grand View wrestling lives the championship lifestyle and it’s much more than just a saying. That’s why we’re so dominate because we live our lives in every aspect to the championship standard. We love these opportunities to go out-fight our opponents and I think we have a lot more to give even though we performed really well.”

The Vikings opened the tournament with a 49-0 shutout over Brewton-Parker before besting Providence in the quarters, 26-6. In the semis, they downed Baker, 42-3.

“This definitely gives the team some added momentum heading into the back-half of the season,” Ruffridge said. “We have things to work on and improve on, but we will get back to work on Monday.”

Wartburg won the Div. III title, downing Augsburg, 24-15, and St. Cloud State claimed Div. II honors over McKendree.

Grand View heads to the Missouri Valley Invitational in Marshall, Mo. this Friday and Saturday before competing at the Roger Denker Open in Warrensburg, Mo. on Sunday.

The NAIA National Championships are set for March 6-7 in Wichita, Kan.

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