Despite many challenges, Northeastern Junior College’s wrestling team has had a very successful season. Last weekend they took second place in the Region IX Tournament and qualified seven individuals to compete at the NJCAA National Championships.
Athletic Director Marci Henry called those results “fantastic” given that the new coaching staff, Kaden Campbell and Colby Duncan, weren’t hired until late last spring, almost summer, and the team had only two returning sophomores.
“So all summer long, they worked their tails off to have a team of 20 and seven of them will be representing us at the National Tournament,” Henry told the NJC Advisory Council Thursday, adding that “it’s pretty impressive what they have built in six months.”
Wrestlers qualifying for nationals include freshman Braydon Mogle, from Hyrum, Utah, in the 125-pound weight class; freshman Layne Shepherd, from Payson, Utah, in the 133-pound weight class; freshman Deegan Palmer, from Payson, Utah, in the 141-pound weight class; sophomore Connor Davis, from Aurora, in the 157-pound weight class; freshman Cael Smith, from Hyrum, Utah, in the 165-pound weight class; freshman Tucker Naccarato, from Payson, Utah, in the 174-pound weight class; and freshman Nolan Bullethead, from Roosevelt, Utah, in the 285-pound weight class.
The NJCAA National Championships will take place in Council Bluffs, Iowa, March 4 and 5.
Wrestlers aren’t the only ones having a successful year, NJC’s livestock judging team is also doing quite well.
Last weekend they competed in back-to-back contests. First was the Heart City Bull Bash, in Valentine, Neb., where freshmen and sophomores were all in one division. The sophomores team was second high team overall, second high team reasons and second high team placings, and individual rankings included Jess Diehl, second high individual overall, third high placings and seventh high reasons; MarLee Leu, seventh high individual overall; Anna Owens, second high reasons and tenth high overall; Blake Fabrizius, 11th high individual overall and fifth high reasons; and Ainsley Fischer, 21st high individual overall.
Meanwhile, the freshmen team was fourth high team placings and sixth high team overall. Individual rankings included Peighton Kendrick, 17th high individual overall and 15th high placings, and Abby Scholz, fifth high placings and 20th high individual overall.
Following that contest, was the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic, in Kearney, Neb. This time the sophomore team was second high team overall, second high team reasons and second high team placings and individual rankings included Ainsley Fischer, second overall, first placings, first feedlot and sixth reasons; Anna Owens, fifth overall and fourth reasons; and Jess Diehl, third reasons.
Meanwhile, the freshmen team took third high overall and second high team placings, with Abby Scholz named the champion overall individual, first in placings and fourth in reasons.
Coach Lindsey McPeake spoke to the advisory council about the purpose of livestock judging. Students learn to evaluate livestock animals and understand industry demands and trends and it also helps them with verbal communication, critical thinking, decision making, networking, processing and building their self-confidence.
Several of the students also demonstrated their judging skills for the council.
There was more athletic success recognized at the meeting as well. Henry shared that Axel Henry, a member of the men’s basketball team from Sterling, is currently serving on the NJCAA Student Athletic Advisory Council. Axel was selected this year amongst the Region IX colleges to represent all the male student-athletes from that region.
Axel is part of the bylaws and constitution committee. Because the council is just getting started they haven’t got their full charter written yet, so he is on monthly calls with other committee members to work on that. He will also be attending the NJCAA Convention in Birmingham, Ala., in April.
Also recognized was volleyball coach Mackenzie Chrisman, who was the 2021 AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Two-Year College West Region Coach of the Year and was selected to be on the AVCA Two Year College Head Coach Committee, which represents NJCAA as well as the California Community College System and the Northwest Athletic Conference.