Vanderford wins NAIA qualifier (Wrestling)
The 10th-ranked Southern Oregon University wrestling team captured another NAIA West Qualifying Group team championship recently, and Ninilchik’s Austin Vanderford was a big reason why the Raiders are on top.
The 174-pounder was one of two Southern Oregon wrestlers to win his weight class, lifting the team to a 3-point win over eighth-ranked Montana State-Northern. This is the third consecutive year the Raiders have won the qualifier.
Vanderford, a two-time state champion in Alaska, breezed through his bracket. He pinned both of his first two opponents – the first in 2:04 the second in 4:56 – and then won the championship by forfeit.
Another Alaska wrestler played a pivotal role in Southern Oregon’s success, with Jimmy Eggemeyer of Kodiak reaching the championship match. He lost the 149-pound title tilt in a 3-2 heartbreaker.
Vanderford and Eggemeyer will compete at the national championships, which begin March 3.