FORT WAYNE, Ind. — With their backs up against the wall and behind 17-4, second-ranked Lady Tiger wrestling out-scored No. 3 McKendree University, 20-2, in the final five matches to win their first-ever NWCA National Duals championship.
The Lady Tigers swept their way to the title by beating No. 10 University of the Cumberlands (37-9), No. 6 Emmanuel College (26-18) and McKendree (24-19).
The three wins improve CU’s duals record to 14-0 overall this season. In addition to the National Duals title, CU also won the Mid-South Conference Regular Season and Tournament championships.
In the first five matches, McKendree jumped out to a 17-4 lead. Campbellsville’s McKenzie Bacich (101), Charlotte Fowler (123), Steffanie Hampton (123) and Shelby Hall (130) all lost by decisions but the Bearcats were unable to claim any bonus points. CU was able to muster four team points in those matches - all of which were crucial at the end.
The lone bonus-point match for McKendree came at 109 when No. 7 Vanessa Ramirez pulled an upset and pinned No. 2 McKayla Campbell in 2:38 - earning five team points.
But from 136 lbs. on, it was all Campbellsville.
Koral Sugiyama (136) and Grace Bullen (143) both pinned to earn a combined 10 team points. Sugiyama pinned Brena Reyna in 2:35, while Bullen took down No. 2 Alexis Porter in 2:06.
At 155, three-time WCWA National Champion Kayla Miracle wrestled up two weight classes once again and earned a 10-0 tech fall over No. 7 Andrea Sennett. The four-point victory for Miracle put CU ahead for the first time in the dual, 18-17.
Mariah Harris gave the Lady Tigers a little breathing room with a come-from-behind criteria victory over No. 7 Brandy Lowe. The win put CU ahead, 21-19, with one match left.
Moving to the 191-pound match, Kaitlyn Hill could give the Lady Tigers a victory as long as she didn’t get tech’d (4-points) or pinned (5-points). The senior from Constantine, Mich. put her individual pride aside, placed the team first but ended up winning her match anyway. She sealed the dual and championship with a 13-13 criteria victory over Sestane Garrick.