The Ellsworth Panther Wrestling Team closed the 2019 NJCAA National Tournament with a 5th place finish. This is Ellsworth's sixth straight top 8 finish at Nationals and the first time in ECC history to have four Wrestlers make the finals.
Hector Candelaria, a 133lb Freshman at ECC won his Quarter-Finals match 3-1 against Nathaniel White from Lackawanna with a takedown in overtime. He had two escapes and one takedown to win the Semi-Finals 4-3 over Munkhbat Bat-Erdene from Northwest Kansas. However, Candelaria fell 5-8 in the Finals to Boo Dryden from Northeast Oklahoma.
Zack Donathan, a 141lb Freshman at ECC defeated Sam Eckhard from NEO 2-0 by fall in the Quarter Finals. He won by escape in the Semi-Finals against Bat-Erdene Boldmaa from Northwest Kansas to advance to the Finals where he was defeated 3-1 by Elijah Ozuna from Clackamas.
Cardeiante Wilson, a 149 Freshman at ECC took home the gold Saturday. He started the tournament with a 5-3 win over Tracy Davis from Iowa Lakes in overtime. Wilson took another 5-3 win in the Semi-Finals with a nearfall and a takedown over Austin Eldredge from Cloud County. He won the National Champion title by fall with a 3-3 score over Kendon Lee from NEO.
"Wilsons win speaks truth to believing in the process and in return it will pay you back," said Cole Spree, ECC head wrestling coach. "A little over a month ago Cardy and I were sitting in a doctor's office discussing options for finishing the season or not. We decided to go on for as long as the injury would allow. We told him over and over 'we truly believe the injury would make you (Wilson) a better wrestler in the end.' He believed in it and now he gets to wear a title only a few get to wear, National Champion!"
Charles Griffin, a 285 Sophomore from Baltimore, MD. had a 9-5 win in the Quarter Finals over Hunter Hart of Southwest Oregon with four takedowns and one escape. He had a5-4 victory over Andre Bissaintha from Iowa Lakes in the Semi-Finals and was defeated 6-0 in the Finals against Antonio Andrade from NEO.
"Going into this season as a coaching staff we really did not know what to expect. For the first time in a long time we did not have any returning all americans or major returners, Spree said. "We had a large group of sophomores, but not a ton of starting experience. This team was full of a bunch of over achievers and it was awesome to be around as a coach! They worked hard as a family and in the end were rewarded for it."