Clackamas CC wrestlers clinch fifth straight NJCAA West Region title
Clackamas Community College 141-pounder Ralph Tovar and 197-pounder Gage Harrah and Ralph Tovar won by first-round falls to help lift the No. 2-ranked Cougars to a fifth consecutive team title at Sunday's NJCAA West District Championships at CCC's Randall Hall.
Clackamas added four other individual titles with Jasiah Williams at 149, Isaiah Diggs at 157, and Dillon Ulrey at 165 in qualifying for the Feb. 23-24 NJCAA National Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Heavyweight Darryl Aiello also earned an automatic berth into the national tournament with a second-place finish, while 125-pounder Devaughn Sapien and 184-pounder Nick Maximov were awarded wild cards, giving the Cougars a nine-man team to take to Iowa.
Clackamas' regional run was marred by the loss of freshman 133-pounder Elijah Ozuna, who failed to make weight Sunday morning, leaving a hole in the lineup that could prove devastating to the Cougars' national title hopes.
"We wrestled pretty good today," said Cougars coach Josh Rhoden, whose team finished with 100.5 points to runner-up North Idaho's 82. "The guys wrestled with purpose and they had to wrestle with some adversity after a teammate didn't make weight.
"A lot of guys' emotional energy was focusing on what was going on with this person and that takes a lot out of them. So, kudos to our guys for just focusing and doing the job they had set in front of them. That's really what it's all about."
Last season, the Cougars took a nine-man team that was minus a heavyweight to the national championships and placed second, finishing 3.5 points behind Iowa Central.
Does Clackamas have a realistic shot at a national title with only nine wrestlers this year?
"If we have nine, we're fine if we score enough points with our big horses," Rhoden said. "We just may be in a situation like last year where if it's a three-team race and the points are spread out, we're going to have a hard time scoring more points because the 10th guy isn't there."