Clackamas CC's Dylan Reel leads wrestlers to second-place finish
Clackamas Community College wrestler Dylan Reel defeated Ellsworth CC's Anthony Collins 8-6 in overtime to claim the 174-pound title and lead the Cougars to a second-place finish at Saturday's NJCAA national championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa.?
Clackamas put six wrestlers into the quarterfinals and four went on to compete in the semifinals, but Reel was the only one to qualify for the finals as the Cougars finished as the national runner-up for the second season in a row.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M had six wrestlers finish among the top five in their respective weights and claimed the team championship with 147.5 points to Clackamas' 124.5.
Defending national champion Iowa Central finished third with 121 points.
Clackamas' Nick Maximov finished third at 184 pounds, while 141-pounder Ralph Tovar, 157-pounder Isaiah Diggs, and 165-pounder Dillon Ulrey each placed fourth. Jasiah Williams added a fifth-place finish at 149, and Darryl Aiello also earned All-America honors by finishing sixth at 285.
"Those kids wrestled so hard," Cougars coach Josh Rhoden said. "We definitely had the team to do it. We just needed a couple of breaks, and that's typically what happens."
The Cougars' national title hopes were dealt a serious blow when 197-pounder Gage Harrah got knocked from the tournament with concussion-like symptoms following his 13-4 win over Joliet's Rodsean Graham in the round of 16.
"Gage had already pinned the guy he was going to wrestle in the quarterfinals earlier this year," Rhoden said. "And in the semifinals ... he might have scored enough points to make it interesting, let's just say that.
"I know we lost by 23 points to NEO, but that's actually the number of points that Gage had the potential to score in what he had left."
Reel, the former University of Minnesota prospect, went 5-0 in the two-day tournament, winning his first three matches by decisions. He then pinned Barton's David Kelly with 20 seconds remaining in the second round of the semifinals, setting the stage for his finals showdown with Collins.
In the final, Reel scored three takedowns and had a 6-4 lead in the third round when Collins scored a takedown in the final 10 seconds of regulation time to force overtime.
"We got a little bit of break because the Ellsworth coach rolled his challenge brick out there, which gave us a chance to talk to Dylan and it gave Dylan a chance to clear his head," Rhoden said. "We asked him if he had a game plan for OT, and he said Collins had been leading hard with his foot and that he was going to go unhook and try a leg attack.
"Dylan tried an inside trip, but the kid stepped out of it, which was pretty athletic on his part. Then the kid tried to attack Dylan, and Dylan countered and got the winning takedown with a nice lift. It was really emotional for Dylan and it was fun to be a part of that, really."
Reel's win also propelled the Cougars into second place in the team race ahead of Iowa Central, the team that overtook Clackamas in the final match of last year's tournament to claim the 2017 national title
"It's as good a second-place finish as I've ever felt, and we've been second three times now," Rhoden said. "If we could have caught a couple of breaks, maybe it would have been a little bit different. But it's been another awesome year.
"You don't want to say it's hasn't been an awesome year when there are probably 55 other teams that would say they'll take national runner-up. It's just when you know you have the group to do it like we last year and this year, it just becomes frustrating and you can't help but ask, 'What do we have to do differently?'"