DES MOINES – The NIACC wrestling team is taking nine out of a possible 10 wrestlers to the NJCAA national wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday.
But NIACC wrestling coach Steve Kelly said the final round at the North Central district meet in Minnesota on Feb. 10 didn’t end the best for his team.
“That’s a good number,” Kelly said of the nine qualifiers, “but what was kind of disappointing was how we performed on the last round of the day at the district tournament. Hopefully, we don’t feel the effects of that at the national tournament.”
The national tournament, which will be held at the Jacobson Exhibition Center on the Iowa State Fairgrounds, starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday. The final are set for 7 p.m. Saturday.
Earning national berths for the Trojans were JP Gamez (125), Zach Welter (133), Blake Spotts (141), Sha-Keno Jenkins (149), Dillon Coe (157), Parker Sturges (165), Basil Minto (184), Shakheim Chapman (197) and Alex Stockton (285).
Minto, a sophomore from Cape Coral, Fla, enters the tournament, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday, ranked No. 1 at 184 pounds.
Minto (23-2) dropped a 6-1 decision to Iowa Western’s Devin Peterson, who is ranked 10th, in the district final. Minto had topped Peterson 5-3 in the regional duals in Mason City on Jan. 19.
“A loss is never a bad thing,” Kelly said. “You have to make it a learning moment and refocus things. We’ll look at the video of the match and hopefully will make the right adjustments.”
Minto, who placed fifth at 184 pounds a year ago, and Peterson are on the opposite sides of the bracket and would not meet until the finals if both advance on the championship side of the 184-pound bracket.
Minto is bidding to become NIACC’s eighth national champion and first since the Trojans claimed three individual national titles in 2008.
Minto and Dillon Coe, a freshman 157-pounder from Mason City, both placed second at the district tournament to lead the Trojans.
Kelly said he’s been impressed with Coe’s progression in his first year at NIACC.
“We love the product,” Kelly said of Coe. “He was three years on junior varsity at Mason City High and he finally broke the lineup.
“Now, he’s finding his niche. College wrestling is for him. He understands adversity. You get a kid that never lost much in high school, they come to college and get beat up on and they’ll probably going to quit on you. Dillon Coe is not that type of kid.”
Kelly, who has coached eight All-American in his first three years at NIACC, said he has high hopes for the Trojans at the national tournament.
“I’d love to come out of here with four or five All-Americans,” the coach said, “but they have to be ready to roll because it’s a tough tournament.”
Eight of the nine NIACC qualifiers are freshman with Minto being the lone sophomore.
“That’s going to be totally different next year,” Kelly said of the experience that should return next season. “We’re excited about that.”
PERFECT 10 – Six schools qualified all 10 wrestlers for the national tournament. They are No. 1 North Idaho College, No. 2 Labette Community College (Kansas), No. 5 Nassau Community College (New York), No. 6 Ellsworth Community College, No. 8 Niagara County Community College (New York) and unranked Lincoln College (Illinois).
DEFENDING CHAMPS – Labette Community College returns as the defending national champions. Labette won the 2012 title with 161.5 points. Iowa Central was second a year ago with 141.5 points and Lincoln was third with 111 points.
BY THE NUMBERS – A total of 251 wrestlers representing 40 community colleges will compete in this year’s national tournament.
NJCAA TOP 20 – North Idaho College; Labette Community College; Northwest College; Clackamas Community College; Nassau Community College; Ellsworth; Colby Community College; Niagara County Community College; Muskegon Community College; Ridgewater College; Iowa Central; Highline Community College; Western Wyoming Community College; Neosho County Community College; Springfield Technical Community College; Iowa Lakes; NIACC; Pratt Community College.
NIACC’S FIRST ROUND MATCHES
JP Gamez (11-15) vs. Christop Lantz (Bergen Community College, Peramus, N.J.)
Note – Gamez placed sixth at the North Central district (Willmar, Minn.). Lantz placed third at the Nassau district (Garden City, N.Y.)
Zach Welter (4-9) vs. Brandon Owens (Darton College, Albany, Ga.)
Note – Welter placed fourth at North Central district. Owens placed second at Nassau district).
Blake Spotts (12-19) vs. Steven Ruppert (Muskegon College, Muskegon, Mich.).
Note – Spotts placed sixth at North Central district. Ruppert, who is ranked second, was district champion at Triton College district (River Grove, Ill.)
Sha-Keno Jenkins (11-9) vs. Kyle Graumenz (Neosho County, Chanute, Kan.)
Note – Jenkins placed fourth at the North Central district. Graumenz placed second at Pratt Community College district (Pratt, Kan.)
Dillon Coe (7-11) vs. Dan McGregor (Triton College, River Grove, Ill.)
Note – Coe placed second at the North Central district. McGregor placed fourth at Triton College district.
Parker Sturges (9-13) vs. Ryan Zumwalt (North Idaho College).
Note – Sturges placed sixth at the North Central district. Zumwalt placed first at Clackamas Community College district (Oregon City, Ore.)
Basil Minto (23-2) vs. Steve Conn (Clackamas Community College).
Note – Minto placed second at the North Central district. Conn placed fourth at Clackamas district.
Shakheim Chapman (19-9) vs. Ramel Hill (Springfield Tech, Springfield, Mass.)
Note – Chapman placed third at the North Central district. Hill placed third at Northeast Pennsylvania district.
Alex Stockton (13-12) vs. Trey Page (Labette Community College, Parsons, Kan.)
Note – Stockton placed sixth at the North Central district. Page, who is ranked fifth, won the Pratt district.
NJCAA national wrestling tickets available at door
DES MOINES – Tickets for the NJCAA national wrestling tournament at the Jacobson Exhibition Center on the Iowa State Fairgrounds will be available at the door.
The following is the ticket information for the tournament, which starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Adult tournament pass – $45.
Adult session pass – $16.
Student and children 15+ tournament pass – $30 with student ID.
Student and children 15+ session pass – $12 with student ID.
Children 14 and under tournament pass – $15.
Children 14 and under session pass – $6.
Children 3 and under – Free.
9:30 a.m. – Championship first round (eight mats); championship second round and consolation pigtail round (eight mats); consolation first round (eight mats).
6:30 p.m. – Championship quarterfinal round (mats 3, 4, 5, 6); consolation second round (mats 1, 2, 7, 8); consolation All-American round (6 mats).
10:30 a.m. – Championship semifinal round (mats 2 and 3); consolation quarterfinal round (mats 1 and 4).
12:30 p.m. – Consolation semifinal round (mats 1, 2, 3, 4).
2 p.m. – Third-place matches (mat 2); fifth-place matches (mat 1); seventh-place matches (mat 3).
6:30 p.m. – Awards presentation.
6:45 p.m. – Parade of All-Americans.
7 p.m. – Championship matches.
Since NIACC brought back wrestling in 2008, 15 NIACC wrestlers have earned All-American honors (TJ Moen and Wismit Moinius were 2-time all-Americans).
The following is a look at the Trojans’ All-Americans since 2008:
Cody Hogan (7th at 133)
TJ Moen (3rd at 141)
Albert White (1st at 149)
DaVaughn Perkins (1st at 157)
Glenn Rhees (1st at 174)
Beau Tudor (8th at 285)
TJ Moen (3rd at 149)
Tim Springs (6th at 165)
Brett Rosedale (4th at 174)
Brock Coutu (7th at 141)
Zach Rosol (3rd at 285)
Wismit Moinius (8th at 133)
Quinten Haynes (7th at 157)
Isaiah Tatum (4th at 165)
Wismit Moinius (5th at 141)
Basil Minto (5th at 184)
Jameel Bryant (7th at 174)
NIACC NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
1970 – Joe Hatchett (190 pounds); 1971 – Hatchett (190); 1972 – Tom Garcia (134); 1973 – Bob Fouts (heavyweight); 2008 – Albert White (149), DaVaughn Perkins (157), Glenn Rhees (174).