TOPEKA, Kan.-- Dillon Kifer (SR/Little Falls, Minn.) finished second in the 141-pound finals at the 2017 NAIA Wrestling National Championships, presented by USA Wrestling-Kansas.
Kifer's impressive run through the bracket came to an end Saturday night in the finals as #2 seed Josh Wenger of Grand View (Iowa) came away the winner by 15-7 major decision.
The 12th-seeded Kifer pinned No. 5 Shonn Roberts of Great Falls and No. 4 Devin Poppen of Southern Oregon to reach the semifinals against top-seeded Tyler Fraley of Williams Baptist (Ark.). Kifer won a convincing 9-3 decision over Fraley, who outscored his previous two opponents 40-5 in a a pair of technical fall victories.
Kifer and Wenger were no strangers, having met in the finals of the NAIA Central Qualifier in Des Moines, Iowa, on February 18. Wenger dominated that match, winning by 17-0 tech fall, and tonight's championship match appeared headed toward the same result.
Wenger led 4-1 after the first period, recording two takedowns and allowing Kifer one escape. The Grand View redshirt freshman then took a 12-1 lead after a reversal and two nearfalls, but Kifer bounced back with a reversal of his own and a four-point nearfall, closing the gap to 12-7 entering the final period.
Starting in the neutral position for round three, Wenger posted a takedown with 33 seconds left and earned another point for riding time to take the 15-7 major decision.
Kifer ends his season at 17-10 and his career by earning All-American honors for the first time. He was attempting to become Jamestown's first national champion since Paul Syvrud in 1986. Syvrud won three straight from 1984-86.
Another Jimmie grappler came away with All-American honors for the first time. Mike Zupan (JR/Moorhead, Minn.) placed 8th at 174 pounds in his first season as a Jimmie.
After losing his first match Friday, Zupan came back with three straight wins, assuring a guaranteed top-8 place. Life (Ga.)'s Hunter Smith pinned Zupan in 4:51 Saturday, putting the junior in the 7th place match.
Zupan went up against No. 9 Andrew Orr of Southern Oregon but lost a 14-6 major decision. He finished the season with a 16-13 record.