The Ellsworth Community College wrestling team finished 8th in the nation and crowned three All-Americans at the 2014 NJCAA National Wrestling tournament in Spokane, WA, on Feb. 28 and Mar. 1. Nine Panthers competed in the tournament with three earning All-American honors: Matt Hurford of Culver, IN, placed 2nd at 184 pounds; Da'Wayne Robertson of Mesa, AZ, placed 3rd at 125 pounds; and Ritchie Guillaume of Miami, FL, placed 4th at 165 pounds.
ECC Panther freshman Matt Hurford, placing 2nd at 184 pounds, reached the National finals after a second round 11-5 decision over Niagara's Cedrick Stephens, a quarterfinal fall over North Idaho's Jonathan Dennis, and semifinal 10-9 decision over Labette's third-ranked Tyler White. In the championship match, Hurford fell to top-ranked Adrian Salas of Clackamas. Hurford finished the year with an impressive 33-5 record and claimed four individual tournament titles.
ECC sophomore Da'Wayne Robertson completed his career at Ellsworth in style with a 3rd place finish at 125 pounds. Robertson racked up five victories against only one loss to the eventual National Champion. His wins included a fall over Highline's Andres Tereza, an 8-5 decision over Niagara's 12th-ranked Eric Velez, a 5-3 decision over 2nd-ranked Tim Prescott from Neosho, and a 13-5 major decision over NW Wyoming's 3rd-ranked Cody Vichi. Robertson completed the year with an NJCAA record 38 victories.
Rounding out the All-Americans for the Panthers was freshman Ritchie Guillaume, placing 4th at 165 pounds. Guillaume opened the tournament with a tough overtime loss to the eventual champion, Diorian Coleman of NW Wyoming, before claiming five victories in a row to reach the third place match. He won by fall over William Thomas of Spartanburg Methodist, defeated Kris Newport of Southwest Oregon 8-6, claimed a 13-3 major decision over North Idaho's 12th-ranked Tyler Mclean, pinned Iowa Central's Ryan Niven in only 58 seconds, and won over Lincoln's 3rd-ranked David Frazier by injury default. In the third place bout, Guillaume built a strong lead over 11th-ranked Kyle Bateman of Clackamas before suffering a match-ending injury.
ECC sophomore Dortanyia (DJ) McIntyre of Marrero, LA, (285) earned a 2-2 record at the National Tournament. ECC wrestlers Eric Franklin of Tampa, FL (133), Anthony Cimorosi of Elkton, MD (157), and Chaeden Grace-Reyes of Manalula, HI (197) all claimed one victory. Mike Stewart of Dracut MA (141) and Jacob Igartua of Bradley, IL (149) also competed in the tournament.
"This weekend our guys wrestled tough," said ECC Head Wrestling Coach Cole Spree. "I think some came in with higher expectations than what they walked out with, but as a team to be able to place in the top ten is a great accomplishment. I think it shows that the program going in the right direction. Individually Matt, Ritchie and Da'Wayne all had great weekends and I am very proud of each of them and their accomplishment of becoming All-Americans.
"I want to issue a special thanks to Da'Wayne Robertson, Eric Franklin, John Shadursky, Dortanyia McIntyre and Edwin Wilson. These guys are our sophomores and throughout their time with the program have helped raise it to one of the top programs in the nation. They will be missed, but I am excited to see each of them compete at the next level," commented Spree.
Photo Caption: Da'Wayne Robertson after winning one of his matches earlier in the year.