Travis Shelnutt of the Central Baptist College wrestling team has qualified for the 2013 NAIA national tournament.
Shelnutt, a sophomore from Mobile, Ala., missed last year’s Central Regional tournament with an injury sustained three days before the tournament. He entered the regional tournament at Baker University in Baldwin, Kan., with an 18-16 mark. After losing in the second round, he came back to place fourth in the 125-pound class to qualified for the national tournament. With a 21-18 record, he will be fourth-seeded in the national tournament, which will begin Feb. 28 in Des Moines, Iowa.
"I am not surprised at Travis’s success; he is a hard working guy and earned every win that is on his record," said CBC coach Ken Prophete. "Travis is going to have a good national tournament and I am looking forward to coaching him here in two weeks."
The Mustangs entered the tournament having a full contingent of 12 wrestlers for the first time since starting the wrestling program in 2010-2011 wrestling season. The Mustangs tied for 10th with Benedictine College in the team competition.
Redshirt junior John Lopez, a two-time national qualifier, finished sixth overall. Lopez was a match away from earning All-American status in the 2012 NAIA National tournament. This year, he finished with a 20-18 overall record.
"This was a tough one for me to swallow, so I can only imagine how he feels," Prophete said. "As hard as it is for Lopez and other guys on the team who just did not quite make it, this is not the end of the road for John or the other 10 wrestlers who will be returning back into the line-up next season."
The Mustangs, one of three college wrestling programs in Arkansas, ended their regular season with an over dual record of 7–13 and had a number of wrestlers place in various tournaments throughout the season.
"Though we only have one guy qualified for the national tournament, the overall season was not great but it wasn’t bad," said Prophete. "It leaves plenty of room to grow and we will continue to develop and grow each year."