INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Heath Gray stormed to the 184-pound championship in leading Central Oklahoma to a strong runner-up finish at the 41st Annual Midwest Classic that wrapped up Sunday.
Gray overwhelmed every opponent in his march to the title, going 5-0 with five bonus-point wins to earn Outstanding Wrestler honors in the two-day tournament. The No. 16-ranked Bronchos also got a runner-up finish from 157 Ty Lucas, while 165 Dayton Garrett finished third, 125 Tanner Cole fifth, 197 Kalin Winkler seventh, and 141 Nate Keim and 149 Brik Filippo eighth.
UCO ended with 113 points in the 37-team tournament that featured 16 top-25 teams. No. 2 McKendree won the team title with 130.5 points, followed by the Bronchos, Tiffin (104), Maryville (79.5) and Adams State (74).
"We lost some tough matches today, but it was a really good weekend for us," said head coach Todd Steidley, whose team finished in front of seven teams ranked ahead of them. "This is one of the toughest regular season tournaments in the country, and we had seven guys finish in the top eight, so I was proud of that.
"Our guys stepped up and showed that we can compete with the top Division II teams. That’s something we can build on moving forward. We're going to keep working hard and will keep getting better.”
Gray was unstoppable on the final day, outscoring two opponents by a combined 30-5 margin in scoring two major decisions and stretching his winning streak to 14 straight.
The junior standout racked up five takedowns in a 14-2 rout of Newberry's ZeBrando Gant in the semifinals, then blasted sixth-ranked Aidan Pasiuk of Ashland 16-3 in the gold medal match behind another five-takedown assault.
Gray, a returning All-American ranked second in the country, is now 15-1 on the season with 13 bonus wins.
Lucas fell to Tiffin's Trey Grine 7-4 in the title bout after opening the tournament with four straight wins. Grine was the national runner-up at 149 last year.
Lucas made the finals with a gritty 4-3 overtime win over Limestone's Sean Glasgow, breaking a 2-2 tie late in the third tiebreaker period with a takedown before giving up a last-second escape.
Garrett lost a 10-3 decision in the semifinals, but rebounded in the consolation semis with an 11-6 upset of No. 7-ranked Tyler Harrington of Maryville to make the third-place match.
The junior needed just 1:15 to pin Alex Farenchak of Gannon to claim the bronze medal and cap a stellar 5-1 weekend.
Cole dropped into the consolation bracket with a tough 3-2 setback to fifth-ranked Marcus Povlick of McKendree, who scored the only takedown of the match in the first period.
The sophomore then lost a 10-6 the consolation semifinal decision to top-rated Carlos Jacquez of Lindenwood in his third straight match against a top-five opponent. Cole, who knocked off No. 3 Nick Daggett of North Carolina-Pembroke 7-3 in Saturday's quarterfinals, received a medical forfeit in the fifth-place match.
Keim, Filippo and Winkler each won their first consolation match of the day before losing to drop into the seventh-place bout.
Winkler used an early six-point move to upend No. 12 Nathan Bowlen of Seton Hill 11-5 in taking seventh, while Keim medical forfeited and Filippo lost a 4-3 decision on a riding time point.
It was UCO's last competition of the first semester. The Bronchos don't return to action until hosting Ouachita Baptist for a dual that will be held at Collinsville High School.