BRISTOL, Tenn. – For the fourth straight year, the King University men's wrestling team has multiple NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships qualifiers as three Tornado make the trip to Sioux Falls, S.D. this weekend. Rylee Billings and Cade Ridley will be making their first appearance at the national championships while Elijah Seay makes the trip for the second straight season.
King had two qualifiers each of the last three seasons and the last time the Tornado sent more than two individuals to the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships was in 2011-12 with four Tornado qualified. That year the Tornado had two individuals earn All-America honors.
At 125 pounds, Billings has had an outstanding sophomore season, going 22-10 to reach the national championships for the first time. He won his first eight matches of the spring semester before falling in the NCAA Super Region II Championships to fellow qualifier Melvin Rubio of Queens University. However, he bounced back to earn consecutive wins and earn the qualifying spot with a third place finish.
Billings will face the winner of seventh-seed Mason Turner of Fort Hays State University and Findlay University's Zachary Collins in the first round. Turner is 16-6 on the year while Collins owns an 18-17 record.
Seay makes the return trip to the national championships at 197 pounds with a record of 18-8 in his senior season. Half of his wins have come via pin while taking one major decision and four technical fall wins. A season ago, Seay finished 1-2 at the national championships following his regional title. This year, he fell to Nicolas Kee of UNC Pembroke at the regional championships before bouncing back to take third with consecutive victories and return to the national championships.
Seay is unseeded in the 197-pound bracket and will face seventh-seeded Luck McGonigal of Mercyhurst University who owns a record of 27-5 in the opening round match. Should Seay win his first two matches, he could find himself in a rematch with third-seed Kee in the semifinals.
Ridley, another Tornado sophomore qualified for the national championships at 285 pounds after finishing third at the NCAA Super Region II Championships. He dropped his second match of the day before a pin and 3-1 win punched his trip to Sioux Falls with a third place finish. Ridley is 14-12 on the year with half of his wins coming via pin.
Ridley also enters unseeded and faces sixth-seeded Jared Rennick of Drury University in the opening match of the tournament. Rennick enters with a record of 18-3.
The action is broken up into four sessions at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., with the first session starting at 11:00 a.m. (CT) on Friday. The second session on Friday is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. (CT). On Saturday, the semifinals, followed by the placement matches will get underway at 10:00 a.m. (CT) with the finals starting at 7:00 p.m. (CT)