Heath Gray wins National Championship, four other Bronchos place

Heath Gray finished the season with a 13-0 record and won the 184-pound title at the NCAA Division II Wrestling National Championship at the America’s Center. Four other Bronchos wrestlers also placed. Dalton Abney finished second in 197, Tanner Cole finished third in 133, Ty Lucas finished fifth in 157, and Paxton Rosen finished sixth in 125.   

Gray entered the NCAA Division II tournament ranked No. 1 in the country. Gray also ranks No. 5 in Division II for average earned team points at 4.19. Gray won three matches on Friday and Saturday to advance to the finals against the defending national champion Connor Craig from West Liberty.

At the 1:30 mark of the first period, Gray landed the first takedown to go up 2-0, and then Craig escaped to make it 2-1 to end the first period.

At the start of the second period, Gray earned an escape point to make it 3-1. Craig responded in the third period with an escape point of his own to make the score 3-2 Gray. The final seconds of the match ran out as Craig was trying to land a takedown and defend his championship, but Gray stayed low, and Craig couldn’t land one.

“I was up by one point. I knew my defense was good, and I had to just stay low,” Gray said. “I had a lot of confidence in the training that we put in, and all I had to do was just wrestle.” 

Heath Gray became the 46th national champion for the UCO wrestling program.

Abney entered the tournament ranked number three with a 7-1 record. Abney was able to wrestle his way to the finals match against Ryan Vasbinder from McKendree.

The match had only one point scored by Vasbinder via an escape to win the match 1-0.

The Bronchos were able to score 65.5 points as a team and finished sixth in the team standings.   

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