Reinhardt remained at No. 2 in the latest NAIA wrestling coaches’ poll following a third-place finish at last weekend’s national duals in Louisville, Kentucky.
This was the first year Reinhardt (14-2) had qualified for the midseason tournament, which annually invites the top eight teams from the previous season’s national championships.
“Obviously, it’s not where we wanted to end up, but we’re proud of our guys,” Reinhardt coach Jeff Bedard said. “Third place, especially as young as our program is, is something to be proud of.”
Reinhardt earned wins over Midway (45-3), No. 11 Oklahoma City (24-12) and No. 6 Baker (20-18) but it dropped only its second match of the season against Marietta’s Life (21-13). Life jumped 12 spots to No. 3 in this week’s rankings after beating Reinhardt.
Reinhardt began the national duals with a dominant win over Midway. The Eagles won the final eight matches of the dual — five coming by way of pin — as the team recorded a convincing victory.
A battle between two top-five teams saw Reinhardt earn the narrow win over Oklahoma City in its second match. The low-scoring, technical bout saw six Reinhardt wrestlers record victories, with heavyweight Nicolas Jarvis earning a 3-2 victory in the final match to secure the team win.
Life knocked off Reinhardt in the third match of the tournament, and Bedard said the team can learn from that experience as it looks ahead.
“We had some real tight matches with Life,” Bedard said. “There were three or four that were kind of coin-flip matches, but I’m not going to make any excuses, though. They won and had their hands raised.”
The dual against Life once again came down to the final match, with Andre Bissainthe pinning Jarvis to secure the come-from-behind victory.
Reinhardt rebounded against one of the best teams in the NAIA in its final dual of the weekend. Facing Baker, the Eagles overcame 9-0 and 12-3 deficits to earn a come-from-behind win of their own.
Technical-fall victories by Nolan Saxton (157) and Justin George (165) helped rally Reinhardt, and Antonio Stewart’s victory at 184 gave Jarvis a final opportunity to clinch a win for the Eagles. He earned a 3-1 decision over Jake Miller, which gave Reinhardt the third-place trophy.
“I was really proud of the way our guys bounced back and responded because, after falling short in the semis, it took a lot to come back and take on a really tough team,” Bedard said. “I mean, Baker is good. It showed a lot of character on our guys’ part.”
Stewart earned Appalachian Athletic Conference Wrestler of the Week honors after being the only Reinhardt wrestler to finish a perfect 4-0 in Louisville. He became the fifth Eagle this season to receive the weekly honor following Jarvis, Jacob Henderson, Nolan Saxton and two-time honoree Curtis Doctor.
Reinhardt, which has five regular-season matches remaining, will wrestle next Jan. 24 at West Virginia Tech. The Eagles’ final home match will be Feb. 2 against Truett McConnell. The final match of the season will Feb. 9 at Newberry.