COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Six of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s 10 wrestlers enter the NJCAA National Wrestling Championships seeded.
Returning 165-pound national champion Wyatt Jordan and 141-pounder Cody Karstetter pulled down No. 1 seeds, 184-pounder Alex Kauffman and heavyweight Brian Andrews are No. 2 seeds, Kendon Lee is third at 149 and Zeke Silva is fifth at 197.
The national tournament runs Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.
This is the first time wrestlers have been seeded for the tournament, according to NEO coach Joe Renfro.
Each of the eight regional champions is ranked 1-8.
In the past, the pairings were set up through a blind draw.
NEO’s wrestlers who enter the competition unseeded are 125-pounder Boo Dryden, Jack Karstetter at 133, Zeke Rubio at 157 and Devin Crawl at 174.
Seven of the 10 Norse wrestlers are freshmen: Dryden, Jack Karstetter, Lee, Rubio, Kauffman, Silva and Andrews.
Jordan and Crawl are sophomores and Cody Karstetter is a redshirt sophomore.
The Norsemen enter the tournament as the No. 1 ranked team in the NJCAA with 91 points.
Clackamas (Oregon) Community College is second with 81 points, followed by defending national champion Iowa Central, 65; Western Wyoming, 44, and North Idaho, 42.
The Norsemen enter the event hoping to keep a streak going where they’ve won national titles in even numbered years — 2014 and 2016.
They were fifth in 2015 and third in 2017.
The Norsemen have crowned at least one individual champ the previous four years, including Jordan and Sean DeShazer in 2017.
“This is the week you live for during the season, but the most tense and quite miserable when it finally comes,” Renfro said. “However, the guys are as prepared as they will get and I have faith they will do their best. As a coach, you should look back on the year to see where things went smooth and where things were a little rocky, but you can’t determine what changes we’ll need to make for the future until after the final outcome.”
First-round pairings (with their record and national ranking) include:
125 — Haysville, Kansas, freshman Boo Dryden (30-6, 5) vs. Hser Eh Pwae, Minnesota West
133 — Garrett Wild, Labette (Kansas) Community College, vs. Sand Springs freshman Jack Karstetter (27-3)
141— Sand Spring redshirt sophomore Cody Karstetter (32-5, 1) vs. Tre Pone, Labette
149 — Brusly, Louisiana, freshman Kendon Lee (29-8, 1) vs. Andy Santana, Triton (Illinois) College
157 — Ponca City freshman Zeke Rubio (24-19) vs. Jaelen Jean, Niagara County (New York) Community College
165 — Collinsville sophomore Wyatt Jordan (29-1, 1) vs. Elijah Hollis, Rochester (Minnesota) Community and Technical College
174 — Chattanooga, Tennessee, sophomore Devin Crawl (21-7, 4) vs. Caleb Spears, Spartanburg (South Carolina) Methodist College
184 — Elias Manzanares, Neosho County (Kansas) Community College vs. Vinita freshman Alex Kauffman (39-5, 2)
197 — Aurora, Colorado, freshman Zeke Silva (16-8, 8) vs. Sedrack Sheppard, Northwest Iowa Area Community College
Hwt — Colin McFarland, Henry Ford (Michigan) College, vs. Grapevine Texas, freshman Brian Andrews (37-42)
“I’m not sure what else we could have done during the year and the results of a very methodically planned and intense season come to a close Saturday,” Renfro said. “I know we’ve done our best and we’ll have to see if that will be good enough. My prediction, the guys will do their best and that’s all we can ask for.”