NJCAA Nationals Duals
It was a crazy weekend for NJCAA men’s wrestling where we saw the best of the best wrestling teams in NJCAA go at it in their Nationals Duals. Two wrestlers from two different teams beat the same wrestler who was #1 at the time, per The Open Mat rankings. They each beat Western Wyoming’s #1 133 Cody Phelps who placed 3rd last year at the nationals and has been number one all season long. #2 Mauro Michel of Southwestern Oregon pinned Phelps in the first period and new-to-the-weight Cesar Avelar (was #6 at 141) of Clackamas beat Phelps by decision.
The team of the week has to be Clackamas Community College. Clackamas is typically regarded as a juco powerhouse, but keep in mind they placed just 10th at these duals one year ago. This year, they reeled off three great wins in the championship bracket to take home the title. First they had Snow, winning 23-18 thanks to a strong middle weight surge. In the semis, they had a showdown with #1 in the nation Western Wyoming. The hero of this dual was undoubtedly Cesar Avelar getting a 5-4 win over #1 Cody Phelps. Reggie Raez also got Clackamas a big win this dual. Raez was unranked, but beat the previous #5 River Wardle. Clackamas beat Western Wyoming 24-22, but they opposed another tough team in the finals, NEO. Clackamas won the first six weights who a few clutch bonus points to seal the deal, winning the title 22-18 over Northeast Oklahoma. All three of these duals could have been decided by one match. This weekend was a good reminder that every wrestler really plays his part in a great team. Undefeated on the weekend for them were 125 Ane’e Vigil (6-0, 4 techs), 141/149 Reggie Raiz (6-0, 2 majors), 133/141 Cesar Avelar (3-0), and 165 Austin Raby (6-0, 3 techs, 2 pins).
There were many impressive individuals. Southwestern Oregon’s Mauro Michel wrestled in a feature bout of the weekend: #1 vs. #2 at 133. Michel quickly ended the match with a first period pin. Chance Davis of Cowley had another impressive weekend. He was 4-0 with all bonus point wins against some stiff competition. This was his first time at the new weight, bumping up from 157. Most impressive was his 17-0 tech fall over the previous #2 in the nation, Connor Svantner of Triton. He also collected a nice pin over Northwest’s Orrin Jackson, a foe who is now #7 in the nation.
Presbyterian had two duals this weekend: one with #4 King University and #8 (NAIA) Campbellsville. Presbyterian was giving King a run for their money, leading the dual heading into 130. One of the reasons for this was Chiara Barbieri techfalling #7 in the nation at 101, Mia Zuniga. Barbieri has been a welcome addition to Presbyterian from North Iowa Area Community College, a juco in Iowa where she placed 3rd at 101 at the 2023 NJCAA Nationals.
Another wrestler who took down a #7 is Brittney Reed of Emory & Henry who pinned Jada Arnold of Mount Olive in the 3rd place match at the Tornado Open. This was a big win for the previously unranked Reed, as Arnold is a returning All-American. Reed has only had three losses this whole season; all from NAIA schools. She placed 6th in the Southeast regional last year, but is looking to earn her first trip to nationals this year.
Delaware Valley’s Senior Sendoff
A twenty second pin in college is pretty crazy, regardless of who it is against. What better way for Delaware Valley’s Bridgette Schoultz to cap off her senior night. Delaware Valley had their final home dual of the season this week, but Schoultz did not waste any time with a farewell to her home crowd. 20 seconds was all it took to collect the pin. The dual ended up being very competitive, won by the home team 27-22. Delaware Valley announced the addition of a women’s wrestling team in 2019 and competed for the first year in the 2021 season. Schoultz has been an integral part of the team’s success since she joined as a freshman that inaugural year. Schoultz is a returning national qualifier who lost in the blood round at nationals this past season.
Let’s not forget our pals in D2! There were some crazy duals this past weekend, with my personal favorite to watch being #3 Wisconsin-Parkside taking on #7 UMary. The dual was mostly back and forth until the upper-middle weights came up to bat. Parkside got two back to back wins over higher-ranked opponents. First, #12 at 174 Brody Hemauer took out #5 Max Bruss by major, 11-1. This is a week after Bruss just took out the #1 in the nation at national duals. Right after at 184, Reece Worachek got a nice 4-2 win over #7 Wyatt Lidberg. Parkside ended up winning the dual 21-17. Rhys Sellers also got one of the biggest wins of the weekend, taking out the previous #7 Quade Smith of Chadron State 6-3 in their dual meet.