The Ellsworth Panther Wrestling Team closed the 2017 NJCAA National Tournament with a 5th place finish. The 5th place standing is Ellsworth's second straight top 5 finish and fourth straight top 10 finish at Nationals.
At the close of the National Tournament, held at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Ellsworth Wrestling also added four more names to its list of All-Americans. Justin Folley, Steven Lawrence, Jordan Gundrum and Timothy Young left their marks by ending the 2016-17 season on the All-American platforms.
Young wins National title
For the fifth year in a row, Ellsworth ended its season with a wrestler in Saturday night's NJCAA National Finals. This year it was #4 ranked freshman Tim Young (197), who put on a dramatic show for all who watched. In the morning semifinals, Young faced #3 ranked Wyatt Westfall of Southwestern Oregon. The match started with both wrestlers being very selective of their offense, and the period ended with the two locked at 0-0. After Westfall earned a quick escape to start the second period, both wrestlers started to open up and trade shot attempts throughout the period until Westfall was able to finish a single leg and take Young down, ending the period with a 3-0 lead. To start the third period, Young earned his own escape in under four seconds. Both wrestlers head and hand fought aggressively to try and gain position as the final period ticked away. As the period crossed over to the last minute, Young converted on a single leg to tie the match at 3-3. Young intentionally gave Westfall an escape to take both wrestlers up to their feet and look for a winning takedown to put himself into the finals. Young fought for position as Westfall attempted to keep his distance. With 13 seconds left on the clock, Young dove in for a low single, catching Westfall's foot and standing to his feet. Young pulled back, stepped over the foot on which Westfall was balancing, and tipped him down to the mat with 3 seconds on the clock to score the winning takedown.
Young then capped his freshman year with a bang in the finals. He was seeking redemption for an early season loss to returning All-American and #2 ranked Christian Dulaney of Iowa Lakes. Dulaney had defeated Young in a home dual 3-2, and medically defaulted to Young in Central District finals. Young was ready this time, and took all of 6 seconds to take Dulaney down. Young immediately gave Dulaney an escape, and the action was back on. Both wrestlers traded shots, hands pushing and pulling at each other as they each tried to get the other out of position. After a restart from going out of bounds, Young attacked and converted on a single leg to take a 4-1 lead. To finish out the period, Young showed his strength as he countered Dulaney's stand-up attempts with four powerful mat returns that shook the stage on which the finals were being held. Young had already accumulated over two minutes of riding time to close out the opening period. Young elected to take the down position to start the second period and earned the escape in under four second to take a 5-1 lead over Dulaney. As the period progressed, Dulaney started to pick-up his pace and was trying to force more action. In a flurry of attempts, Dulaney was able to get a stalling call on Young and earn a point to make the match 5-2, still in Young's favor. After a few failed takedown attempts by both wrestlers, the second period ended. Dulaney started the third period down, and this time was able to evade Young's power mat return, pulling the match even closer at 5-3. Without delay, Dulaney rushed Young, got him off balanced, and finished a knee-pick for a takedown on the edge of the mat to tie the score at 5-5. As the two wrestlers walked back to the center of the mat, Dulaney signaled to the official that he wanted to intentionally give Young the escape. So Young earned an escape point to take a 6-5 lead, and the match was continued on their feet. With 45 seconds left, Young countered one of Dulaney's takedown attempts and was deep on a double leg, but as the two wrestlers fell to the mats they both rolled and Dulaney flung Young and himself out of bounds. The mat officials both ruled Young did not have control until after he and Dulaney had landed outside the circle. Coach Spree without hesitation used his final challenge card to challenge the call. The official video reviewed the action and confirmed their call of no takedown. At the restart whistle, Young shot in for a single, but Dulaney countered and attempted to position himself to throw Young. Young, being a Cadet World team member in Greco-Roman, was ready for the throw and without hesitation hit a bodylock on Dulaney, lifting him off the mat and slamming him down.
The crowd erupted as Young held Delaney on his back for what seemed like minutes. With 14 seconds left on the clock the official slapped the mat and Timothy Young was the 197 pound 2017 NJCAA National Champion. Young will look to defend and repeat his title next year when he returns to Ellsworth.
ECC Head Coach Cole Spree was very pleased with the freshman's accomplishments in the National Tournament. "Overall, Timothy wrestled a really good tournament. There were moments where he had to come up with points, and he did. He had to have five consecutive good matches put together to put himself in the position to win a national title. This is a huge accomplishment for anyone, and especially for a freshman … not many have done this."
Folley takes 4th
Gundrum takes 6th
Returning 2016 All-American Jordan Gundrum (174) ended his Panther wrestling career with a second podium finish. Gundrum added a 6th place finish to his runner-up finish from last season. In the morning semi-final, Gundrum was defeated by eventual national runner-up and #7 ranked Adrian Lyons-Lopez of Southwestern Oregon, by an 8-4 decision. Moving onto the consolation semi-final, Gundrum was defeated by #7 ranked and 3rd place finisher Tyree Overton of Lincoln College by a score of 14-8. Gundrum ended the day in the 5th place match; he was leading Michael Morris of Camden County 8-0 when they rolled into a scramble situation and Gundrum landed on his back and Morris on top, with Morris getting the pin in 2:51. Gundrum is on a select list of two-time All-Americans for Ellsworth. He plans to continue his college career at Upper Iowa University.
Lawrence places 6th
"Not every wrestler accomplished his individual goals but overall, as a team, we did complete our goal," said Coach Spree. "We finished in the top 5, which makes the statement that we are consistently among the elite teams in the nation."