The Ellsworth Panthers Wrestling team ended the first day of the NJCAA National Wrestling Tournament with four wrestlers who will be named All-Americans tomorrow at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, IA. Justin Folley, Steven Lawrence, Jordan Gundrum, and Tim Young will continue in Saturday's portion of the National Junior College Athletic Association National Wrestling Tournament.
Freshmen Justin Folley (125) and Tim Young (197) are making the most of their first trip to nationals. Folley started the day off with a fall in 3:46 over Fabian Guerrero of Northwest Kansas Tech. After that the 6th ranked Folley rattled off two thrilling wins over #3 Ian Mullen of Harper College in the second round and #4 ranked Logan Terrill of Northeast Oklahoma A&M in the quarterfinals. Both matches Folley was able to avenge losses he took early this year to both wrestlers. Folley will face #2 ranked David Campbell of Clackamas Community College for the right to wrestle in Saturday night's finals.
Tim Young, ranked #4, earned his way into the semifinals in dominating fashion. Young started the day with a 13-4 major decision over #8 ranked Nick Maximov of Clackamas Community College. He continued his day with a win over Josh Walker of Neosho Community College by a 12-8 decision. To cap of his first day, Young powered his way into Saturday's semifinals by defeating Jeffery Oakes of Northwest College by a 14-5 major decision. Young will wrestle #3 ranked Wyatt Westfall of Southwestern Oregon in Saturday morning semifinals.
Sophomore Jordan Gundrum (174) is making his second straight trip to the National Semifinals. #3 ranked and returning national finalist Gundrum made the most of his second trip to nationals. In his first match of the day, he dominated Anton Krocko of Harper College, and won by a first period fall of 1:38. He moved through the second round with a hard fought 8-4 decision of Jordan Juliano of Middlesex County. To cap off his night and punch his ticket into the semifinals for the second year in a row, Gundrum earned the fall in 3:53 over Nick Vines of Nassau Community College. He will face #7 ranked Adrian Lyons-Lopez of Southwestern Oregon in the semifinals.
Going into Saturday's final two sessions, Steven Lawrence (157) is the lone survivor of the consolation rounds for the Panthers. Lawrence wrestled his way into Friday night's quarterfinal round with two quality wins. The 8th ranked Lawrence first defeated #7 ranked Cole Hornbrook of Southwestern Oregon by fall in just 1:25. He continued into his second win with a 9-5 decision over Cody McGregor of Niagara County to enter Friday's quarter finals. In a heart breaking back and forth match, Lawrence fell to the consolation bracket with a 15-11 defeat. He rebounded and earned his spot on the All-American stand in dramatic form. Lawrence faced off against Ryan Snow of Northwest Kansas Tech. Lawrence was able to secure a leading takedown on the edge of the mat during the second period. With literally the tip of one of his toes, to deem him still in bounds, Lawrence was able to pin Snow. After a brief discussion between the two mat officials, Lawrence was ruled out of bounds and the fall was taken away, with the match to continue. After the restart, it only took Lawrence an extra 17 seconds to secure a pinning combination on Snow, roll him to his back, and earn the official fall in 4:17. Lawrence will face #5 ranked Alex Nelson of Northeast Oklahoma A&M in Saturday's consolation-quarterfinals in hopes to keep his chances of 3rd place alive.
Other national qualifiers for Ellsworth were: Josh Adams (149), who went 1-2 on the day with a 10-6 decision over Howie Olsen of Harper College; Tra Jones (141), 2-2 on the day with wins of 3-2 decision and 12-10 decision over Jarrett Ziegler of Camden County and Lane Hunt of Western Wyoming before falling to #2 ranked Curtis Burnett of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the consolation bracket; Anthony Collins (184), 2-2 on the day with wins of 11-2 major decision and 3-2 decision over Anthony Lodermeier of Otero Junior College and Deven Simpson of Mercyhurst North East; Blake Walker (133), 3-2 on the day, with wins of 10-3 decision, fall in 1:33, and a 4-2 decision over Bryson Beard of North Idaho, De'Khayle McFarland of Labette, and Beau Shatto of Southwestern Oregon, and Walker's second round loss was a 3-2 last second takedown to #2 Sean DeShazer of Northeast Oklahoma A&M; Gary Whitaker (285), 3-2 on the day, with wins of 9-5 decision, 4-2 decision, and 5-1 decision over Timothy Smith of Southwestern Oregon, Cayelon Barton of Iowa Lakes Community College, and Chase Nottestad of Rochester Community & Tech.
Ellsworth currently sits in 5th place in the team race with 54.5 points.
Top 10 teams after Day 1 (Going into Semifinal Round)
1. Northeast Oklahoma- 93
2. Iowa Central- 91
3. Clackamas- 83.5
4. Lincoln- 59
5. Ellsworth- 54.5
6. NIACC- 52.5
7. Camden County- 51
8. Iowa Western- 48
9. Iowa Lakes- 46
10. Southwestern Oregon- 45
Wrestling will resume Saturday, Feb. 24 with doors opening at 9:30 am and matches to start at 10:30 am.
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