Ellsworth wrestlers finished the 2015-2016 season with a bang! Coach Spree and his 10 National Qualifiers capped off their season at the NJCAA National Wrestling Tournament with a 3rd place team finish and the naming of 7 All-Americans.
Third place is the best-ever national finish for Ellsworth Wrestling, besting the 1982 team that placed 4th, as well as the 2003 and 2008 teams that finished with 5 All-Americans. Leading the charge this spring was freshman Jordan Gundrum (174), with a runner-up finish. Gundrum stormed his way into the National finals with two falls of 0:44 and 1:04, and a major decision of 10-0 in the semi-finals, before falling to defending National champ and eventual Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament Jacobe Smith of Northeast Oklahoma A&M in the finals.
Finishing their Ellsworth wrestling careers on a win were Matthew Rodriguez-Kirkland (157) and Dalonte Holland (285), both finishing in 3rd place, as well as Sadarriss Patterson (165), who finished 7th. Both Rodriguez-Kirkland and Holland were knocked to the consolation bracket by the eventual champions of their weight classes. Rounding out the sophomore class of All-Americans was De'Andre Jones (184), who finished in 8th place.
Wrestlers who finish in the top eight places receive All-American honors. Other ECC freshman All-Americans were Blake Walker (125) and Tepra Wright (133). Walker finished 4th after being defeated in the semi-finals. Wright fell in the semi-finals and battled through his final two matches to finish in 6th place after suffering an Achilles tendon injury in the semi-finals.
"Overall it was a solid performance by our wrestlers," said Head Coach Cole Spree. "Obviously our goals were higher than third place as a team and having seven All-Americans, but it is another big step in the right direction. It was great to see us achieve things that the program has never achieved and to take another step toward a National team title. The coaching staff is very proud of our sophomores … they are the reason that we continue to put Ellsworth back at the top of the National rankings. They will be missed, but we are positive that wherever they chose to continue their careers they will have success both on and off the mat. Thank you to all who came out and supported us this season. Work toward our next season has already begun!"