UM’s Gabe Hixenbaugh wins Division II 133-pound wrestling title, first national title in school history

Published 2:46 pm Sunday, March 17, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PARK CITY, Kan. Gabe Hixenbaugh’s historic journey to the top is now complete with a national championship.

Hixenbaugh claimed the Division II 133-pound wrestling national championship while representing the University of Montevallo on Saturday, March 16 at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.

The title is the first D-II national championship in Montevallo history and caps off the wrestling program’s inaugural season.

In the finals against defending champion Gavin Quiocho of Glenville State, Hixenbaugh took the lead towards the end of the first period with a three-point takedown.

Quiocho cut the deficit to two in the second period with an escape point, making the score 3-1 heading into the third and final period.

With the national title hanging in the balance, Hixenbaugh quickly scored an escape point of his own as the third period began and held Quiocho scoreless the rest of the way to earn the 4-1 decision win and the national title.

Before the finals, Hixenbaugh started the tournament with a 20-5 tech fall victory over No. 14 James Anderson in the first round on Friday, March 15.

Later that day, he continued his dominant day with an 11-1 major decision over No. 9 Theiron Diallo in the quarterfinals.

He needed to overcome a tough test from No. 5 Reece Barnhardt of UMary in the semifinals on Saturday, March 16 to reach the championship match.

After a scoreless first period, Hixenbaugh scored an escape point early in the second, but he suffered a three-point takedown as Barnhardt took the 3-1 lead, just the second takedown he suffered all season and the first three-point takedown.

However, Hixenbaugh wasn’t finished just yet, earning an escape point followed less than a minute later by a takedown of his own to lead 5-3 ahead of the third period.

Barnhardt cut the deficit to one with an escape point early in the third and earned another takedown to grab a 7-5 lead with 1:10 remaining.

Then, with four seconds remaining in the match, he escaped to make the score 7-6 and followed it up immediately with a buzzer-beating takedown.

Following a review to confirm the takedown, Hixenbaugh earned the 9-7 win to advance to the finals where he eventually won the title.

The top-seeded Hixenbaugh finished the season with a 31-0 record and 14 wins over ranked opponents and earned a spot on the All-American team.

Before coming to Montevallo, Hixenbaugh won five individual state championships for Thompson High School, becoming the second-winningest wrestler in program history with a 249-16 record, wrestling on three state championship teams and winning the Junior Nationals.

He then wrestled in Division I for four years with Campbell University, earning SoCon All-Freshman Team honors in 2021 and finishing 17-1 in his senior season.

Hixenbaugh used his grad transfer to come to Montevallo to help build the first-year program, pursue his master’s degree and wrestle close to his hometown.

And now, after rising to the No. 1 ranking in the 133-pound weight class, he can claim the title of national champion and will bring home Montevallo’s first D-II national title in any sport.