Newly reinstated program NEO captures NJCAA title

Related: Results | All-Americans | Team Standings

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Although the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (NEO) Golden Norsemen were in their first year as a newly reinstated program and came into the NJCAA National Wrestling Championships ranked No. 2, they would lead the tournament from wire-to-wire.

NEO wrestlers and staff
In the Spokane Convention Center over the past two days, the Golden Norsemen, led by head coach Joe Renfro, had eight wrestlers in the quarterfinals and led top-ranked Clackamas 42 to 34.5, and Northwest (Wyoming) had 32 points. After the quarters, Renfro and his squad from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M pushed five wrestlers into the semifinals and widened their lead.

In the semifinals NEO would win four of five matches, putting four Golden Norsemen in the finals and elevating their point total to 150 points, 26 points more than Northwest (Wyoming), who has 124 points. The No. 4 Trappers moved ahead of top-ranked Clackamas after the semifinals.

After the semifinals and medal rounds, NEO maintained a twenty-five point lead with four finalists. Northwest Wyoming had 140 points and three finalists.

At the end of the semifinals, and prior to the semifinal consolation matches, NEO would win four of five bouts starting at 125 pounds, where Josh Walker (NEO) won by decision over Matthew Nguyen (SW Oregon), 4-2. Michael Williams (NEO) would punch his ticket to the finals with a 5-3 decision over Matt Gay of SW Oregon. The Golden Norse's Zack Dobbins would keep the string of wins going at 149 with a 5-1 victory over Tyler Nation of Iowa Western. At 174, Joe Renfro's Norse would go 4-for-4 as Payne Hatter picked up bonus points with a major decision over Brandon Sorenson of Iowa Lakes, 14-2. Looking to go 5-for-5 in the semifinals, Evan McGee would take Malcolm Allen (Iowa Central) to over-time before falling by 3-1, sudden victory-1.

Freddie Rodriguez
Going onto the finals, NEO had the NJCAA title locked up, and there wasn't much room for movement with any of the top 15 teams. With their comfortable lead, NEO was looking for individual titles, but almost ended up being a team that would win a national title without an individual champion.

In the finals at 125 pounds, Freddie Rodriguez (Iowa Lakes) won by decision over Josh Walker (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M), 6-1. NEO would not fare any better at their next two weights as Zac Loveless (Northwest College) won by major decision over Michael Williams (NEO), 9-0, at 141 pounds. Nosomy Pozo (North Iowa) also won by major decision over Zack Dobbins (NEO), 18-6, at 149 pounds. NEO's last chance for an individual champion came at 174 pounds, and the Golden Norse would get their wish as Payne Hatter (NEO) won by decision over Jared Johnson (Colby), 6-3

In other finals matches, C.J. Palmer (Clackamas) won the 133-pound title with a 4-0 decision over John Dillon (Mercyhurst). Yoanse Mejias at 157 pounds would give North Iowa their second titlist as he would win by decision over Richie Lewis (Iowa Central), 7-3. At 165, Diorian Coleman of Northwest would stop Colby's Calvin Ochs with a 3-1 decision. Back-to-back pins at 184 pounds and 197 pounds would add some great excitement at the NJCAA tournament. Adrian Salas (Clackamas) pinned Matt Hurford (Ellsworth) in three minutes at 184 pounds. At 197 pounds, V.J. Giulio (North Idaho) only needed 1:29 to pin Jon Wixom (Northwest). In the final match of the night, DeQuence Goodman (Lincoln) earned a 4-3 decision over Malcolm Allen (Iowa Central) at heavyweight.

Tournament awards included NJCAA Wrestling Man of the Year went to Bob Purcell of Minnesota West. The NJCAA Academic Team of the Year award went to Highline, with a team GPA of 3.49.

The newly elected NJCAA Wrestling Hall of Fame inductees included Jose Medina, former Triton College and University of Nebraska at Omaha wrestler; Matt Lindland, former Clackamas Community College and University of Nebraska wrestler and Olympic athlete; former North Idaho College and Montana State University Northern wrestler; and Pat Whitcomb, former North Idaho College, Oklahoma University, and Western Montana wrestler and four-time NJCAA championship head coach at NIC.

NEO coaches
V.J. Giulio, the 197-pound champion from North Idaho College, was named the Ernest Gould Outstanding Wrestler. The Bruce Traphagen Fall Award went to Iowa Westerns's 285-pound Chris Schleuger. The Joseph Rockenbach Sportsmanship Award recipient was Zach Loveless, Northwest College. Coaches of the Year awards went to Randy Rager, Rochester Community and Technical College, Non-Scholarship Division, and to Joe Renfro, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, scholarship division.

Finals Results:
125: No. 8 Freddie Rodriguez (Iowa Lakes) dec. No. 1 Josh Walker (NEO), 6-1
133: No. 1 C.J. Palmer (Clackamas) dec. John Dillon (Mercyhurst), 4-0
141: No. 3 Zac Loveless (Northwest) maj. dec. No. 5 Michael Williams (NEO), 9-0
149: No. 9 Nosomy Pozo (NIACC) maj. dec. No. 12 Zack Dobbins (NEO), 18-6
157: No. 3 Yoanse Mejias (NIACC) dec. Richie Lewis (Iowa Central), 7-3
165: No. 5 Diorian Coleman (Northwest) dec. No. 6 Calvin Ochs (Colby), 3-1
174: No. 1 Payne Hatter (NEO) dec. No. 6 Jared Johnson (Colby), 6-3
184: No. 1 Adrian Salas (Clackamas) pinned No. 2 Matt Hurford (Ellsworth), 3:00
197: No. 3 V.J. Giulio (North Idaho) pinned No. 9 Jon Wixom (Northwest), 1:29
285: No. 1 DeQuence Goodman (Lincoln) dec. No. 6 Malcolm Allen (Iowa Central), 4-3

Final Team Standings:
1. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 169
2. Northwest 149
3. Clackamas 139
4. Colby 84.5
5. Neosho County 83
6. North Idaho 72
7. Iowa Central 66
8. Ellsworth 65.5
9. Muskegon 62
10. NIACC 60
11. RCTC 52.5
12. Iowa Lakes 51.5
13. Iowa Western 51
14. Lincoln 50
15. Southwestern Oregon 45
16. Harper 43.5
17. Darton 39.5
18. Labette 29.5
19. Mercyhurst 27.5
19. Spartanburg Methodist 27.5
21. Niagara County 24
22. Northwest Kansas Tech 23
23. Jamestown 22.5
24. Gloucester 22
25. Ridgewater 19.5
26. Nassau 19
27. Northland 15
28. Itasca 14.5
29. Highline 12.5
30. Springfield Tech 12
31. Waubonsee 10.5
32. Bergen 9.5
32. Pratt 9.5
34. Western Wyoming 9
35. Triton 7.5
36. Middlesex 6
37. SUNY Sullivan 5
38. Minnesota West 0
38. Wentworth 0


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