The Raiders traveled to Morningside College last weekend for the GPAC Championships and national-qualifying meet. While Northwestern has battled injuries this season and was missing a few of their upperclassman, the underclassman showed up and set the tone for the tournament.
Big tournaments from senior Andrew Null, senior Dante Preciado and freshman Luke Jenness resulted in Raider individual GPAC Champion titles on Saturday, Feb. 22. The Raiders also finished third as a team. Every Raider earned a team point on the day and the Raiders only trailed Briar Cliff and Champion, Concordia, on the day.
Null, Preciado and Jenness all punched their ticket to the National Tournament with their individual tournament wins. NW had eight out of 12 wrestlers place on the day and NW finished with 109 points, just 0.5 points above host Morningside.
“Our young team really rose up this weekend,” said head coach Rik Dahl. “To have three champions and eight placers was a huge testament to the work these guys have been putting in and the way they have loved the process this season. These guys believed in their training and believed in each other. It was fun to watch. All 12 guys scored points, so it was a true team accomplishment.”
Null’s performance this weekend puts him at 10th for all-time wins in Raider history. Additionally, he is only the third person in program history to have won the conference title three times. Null secured his 28th win by pin fall, making that 28 total for his career and moving him to tie for fifth in program history.
“I see this postseason as a farewell tour and every person I wrestle is an obstacle,” Null said. “It was cool to win three regional titles, but the goal is to compete well at the National Tournament, and I want to keep the momentum rolling.”
Also taking place during the National Tournament, senior Dylan Costello will be nominated as NW’s Champion of Character.
“I’m thankful for being recognized by my team and I look forward to watching them compete at Nationals,” Costello said.
Team manager, Joshua Dahl was happy with the day’s performances, as well.
“I was really impressed with how our team competed. We’ve been working hard all season, and we had quite a few main guys not able to compete. Our underclassmen really stepped up,” Dahl said.
The Raider trio will compete in Park City, Kansas, on March 6 and 7.