Clackamas CC wins fifth straight National Duals wrestling team title
Clackamas Community College's wrestling team was equal to the hype on Friday.
The top-ranked Cougars won seven of 10 bouts and defeated No. 2 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 27-14 to clinch a record fifth consecutive NJCAA division title during the finals of the NWCA National Duals Championships at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Clackamas took a 21-9 lead into the 197-pound match when Cougars' sophomore Gage Harrah pinned Northeastern's Gus Boyd at 48 seconds of the first round to lock up the title.
Isaiah Diggs added a technical fall at 157, Elijah Ozuna won by major decision at 133, DeVaughn Sapien (125) and Dylan Reel (174) each won by decision in overtime, and Dayton Racer (174) and Jasiah Williams (149) each won by decision in regulation time.
Clackamas opened the tournament Thursday with a 51-6 win over Triton College of Illinois, followed by a 50-2 rout over Northwest Kansas Tech in the quarterfinals.
The Cougars then came back in Friday's semifinals with a 33-9 win over Iowa Western, setting the stage for Northeastern and a rematch of last year's NJCAA national duals championship final.
"The team was pretty dominant throughout the event," Cougars coach Josh Rhoden said. "The guys really came out with a purpose and they never really backed away. Everybody really stepped up.
"At 197, Gage said he was going to go out there and take care of business and seal it for us, and he delivered."
Clackamas not only improved to 12-0 on the season, but the Cougars also set themselves up for what Rhoden hopes is a serious run at another NJCAA Region 18 title and a possible national championship.
"I think it gives us kind of the idea that, hey, what we're doing is working," Rhoden said. "We've got things that we can improve on, but I think what this does is it let's the guys know that what we want in the end is within our grasp and it's something that's within our control."
But the Cougars have been in this position five times before, winning the National Duals tournament in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the only time they followed it up with an NJCAA championship was in 2011.
"As soon as we won, in our team huddle on the mat, I told the guys, 'You better keep your eye on the prize,'" Rhoden said. "We're definitely one of the best teams in the country, no question. And for whatever reason, we wrestling really well here. But we've got to keep our eye on the prize."