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Keith Klink, left, Charlie Pingleton, center, and Ian Stephens all reached the finals on Friday night in Des Moines, Iowa.
Wrestling - Sat, Mar. 3, 2012
Wrestling in fourth place overall, jumping up six spots from its place after day one of the championships

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Three Lindsey Wilson College wrestlers punched their tickets to the finals of the NAIA Wrestling National Championships on Friday with semifinal wins at the Jacobson Exhibition Center at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Keith Klink (133), Charlie Pingleton (157) and Ian Stephens (174) have made program history with the first appearances in the national finals at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday night.

DaMonte Riley and Isaac Thomas are both still alive in wrestlebacks at 141 pounds for the Blue Raiders. Riley still has a chance for third place with two more wins, while Thomas has one match left for seventh place.

All five wrestlers are assured spots as NAIA All-Americans, topping last year's total of two.

As a team, Lindsey Wilson made a big jump from 10th place after day one, all the way up to fourth heading into Saturday's finals.

The Blue Raiders have 84 team points, while Grand View (Iowa) is in front with 141.5, Southern Oregon is second with 118.5 and Campbellsville (Ky.) is third with 100.5.

The 20 wrestlers vying for a national title on Saturday come from 10 different schools.

Grand View and Southern Oregon lead the way with four finalists each, while Lindsey Wilson is next in line with three. Campbellsville and Oklahoma City are the only other teams with multiple finalists with two each.

In dealing with point standings on the team side, Grand View and Campbellsville are dangerous with five wrestlers each still battling in wrestlebacks, but still the majority of points to earn are locked up in the finals.

Klink and Pingleton share one thing in common in that tomorrow's matches will be the last of their collegiate careers and both wrestled like they knew it on Friday.

Klink opened the day with an 8-5 decision against Concordia's Adam Joseph in the quarterfinals, followed by a hard-fought 4-2 decision in the semifinals against Shorter's (Ga.) Nathan Galloway.

The senior from Arcadia, Wis., meets Grand View's Omi Ocasta in Saturday's final. Ocasta made waves around the championships on Friday with his 9-5 decision against previously unbeaten Tim Thurston from Campbellsville.

Pingleton was scary good in his first match of the day, topping Trever DeVestern of Dakota Wesleyan by major decision 15-2. To reach the finals the senior from Greencastle, Ind., posted a 5-3 decision against Jeremy Padilla from Waldorf.

Waiting for Pingleton in the final is Oklahoma City's Nik Turner who beat Campbellsville's Conor Young by a 12-2 major decision.

Stephens, the youngster of the group, reaching the finals as just a sophomore, dominated in his two matches on Friday.

To start things off, the LaFayette, Ga., native pinned Hannibal-LaGrange's Nathan Downs in one minute and 18 seconds, followed by an 8-3 decision against Grand View's Ty Knowler in the semis.

On Saturday, Stephens faces Brock Gutches from Southern Oregon who beat Oklahoma City's Derek Peperas 9-3 to reach the finals.

Thomas and Riley will settle their places at the championships during Saturday's morning session starting at 10 a.m.

Thomas wrestles Jacob Williams from Concordia to claim seventh place and Riley has two matches left, starting with Great Falls' Myles Mazurkiewicz in the consolation semis.

No Blue Raider grappler has ever finished higher than eighth at nationals, while the best team finish is 15th last season.

Live video is available of all 10 championship matches Saturday night, with coverage starting at 6:45 p.m. The cost is a one-time payment of $9.95 and can be ordered through the NAIA here.



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