By Jeremy McDonald
FORT WAYNE, Ind.— Clackamas Community College opened their Two-Time NWCA National Dual Tournament defense with a 47-1 win over Triton.
What followed was Brandon Johnson’s major decision pushed the Cougars pasted Iowa Western in the quarter-final round before they defeated number one Northeastern Oklahoma to get to the finals.
Once they got into the finals, against second-ranked Ellsworth, it came down to the third criteria of team points to hand sixth-ranked Clackamas CC their third-straight National Dual Championship at the NJCAA following a 18-all tie after competition.
It was also their fourth championship in the last six years.
“My initial thoughts on when we were announced Champs was happiness for our guys,” said Cougars Head Coach Josh Rhoden on the accomplishment. “I am so proud of this group of men! Also too, a little relief as the road to that point was so exhausting.
“Also I have to say that because of all the coaches, athletes, staff members and our trainer Kevin Arizo we now have three straight National Championships and have won four of the last six!”
The journey, described Rhoden, was an intense one. Adversity started from the start with the flight to Chicago, then a three-and-a-half hour drive to Fort Wayne in Indiana. No easy task for a West Coast team like Clackamas.
“As the only West coast team, not just in our event, but in any of the divisions we had to battle a three hour time change as well,” said Rhoden. “All that was said to say this: our guys wrestled full out, no excuses.”
But what about jet-lag in their first match against Triton College (IL)? There wasn’t one.
The Cougars came out fast in the 47-1 victory and they didn’t look back.
A long lay-off allowed Clackamas to recover from the opening round for Iowa Western that came down to two big wins from Brendan Harkey (165) and Brandon Jonson (285)
“Brendan Harkey went out and earned a major decision making a win possible,” said Rhoden on the match. “Then our upper weight guys did their jobs and went out and won it for us with Brandon Johnson needing another major to avoid a tie. He got it.”
It only got tougher from there entering Day Two when Clackamas opened the day with the number one team in all of NJCAA in the semi-final round, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
The ranking didn’t matter, the Cougars were focused in the 26-10 victory to push onto the final versus the second-ranked Ellsworth Panthers of Iowa.
“It was as evenly matched as a dual could be with it ending in a tie 18-18,” said Rhoden on the championship bout.
Like a championship boxing bout, it came down to the cards; in this instance, the wrestling criteria, to determine a champion for the NJCAA championship.
The announcement came down in favor of Clackamas.
“We won on the tie breaking criteria number three most total match points,” said Rhoden. “The total match points are added from each match wrestled that did not end in a fall.
“So in this case each team had a fall but those points didn’t count towards the total match points just the other eight matches,” described Rhoden on criteria number three.
Flying back with their title in hand and smiles on their faces, the Cougs turn to Southwestern Oregon on January 16 to continue their momentum from the National Duals.
“So far rest and smart training cycles have been this team’s best friend,” described Rhoden on the plan of attack. “So we will take today slowly and work our way back to business as usual.”
That match is slated for 6pm in Coos Bay, the home of the Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers.
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
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