COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — For the sixth time in seven years, Northeastern A&M has a national champion in wrestling.
Blake Gonzalez, a freshman from Broken Arrow, rolled to a 9-1 decision against Auston Hall of Rochester (Minnesota) Community College in the 149-pound championship match here Saturday, March 7.
NEO’s Mikey Mascarenas, Jonny Trowbridge, Jayden Smith and Dan Baker all turned in third-place finishes.
Clackamas (Oregon) Community College won a second straight title with 135.5 points.
But this may have been one of the most balance finishes in a number of years.
The Norsemen were the runner-up with 108.5 points and Iowa Western and Rochester tied for third with 104 point.
“Last year our points would have won the national tournament and we got second place,” NEO coach Joe Renfro said. “There was a lot of equality there. We just missed it by a little bit.”
Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College and Western Wyoming finished fourth and fifth with 101 and 100 points, respectively.
Ten points separated sixth through 10th place.
“Second place isn’t that bad — there are a lot of teams that would love to have that,” NEO coach Joe Renfro said.
NEO won a national title in 2018, was third in 2017, first in 2016, fifth in 2015 and first in 2014.
NEO’s previous national champs were Boo Dryden and Antonio Andrade in 2019, Sean DeShazer and Wyatt Jordan in 2017, Dawaylon Barnes, Jacobe Smith and Blake Andrews, 2016; Jacobe Smith, 2015, and Payne Hatter, 2014.
Smith and Everett Harris (1991-92) are the school’s two-time champs. Smith also was a winner in 2015.
NEO’s other individual national champ was Tim McCall in 1988.
“I can’t complain right now,” Renfro said. “We had four third-place finishes and a national champ. Other than the numbers, only having five, that’s pretty darn good.
“It’s hard to complain about that.”
Gonzalez squeezed out a 4-3 decision against Marckis Branford of Clackamas (Oregon) Community College in the 149 semifinals.
He opened the tournament with a 19-2 technical fall over Nelson Roberts of Ancilla (Indiana) College.
Gonzalez decisioned Larry Johnson of North Idaho 5-3 then crushed Cade Wathke of Labette (Kansas) Community College 27-10 in the quarterfinals.
Mascarenas was a 7-2 winner over Hector Candelaria of Ellsworth in the 133-pound third-place match.
Trowbridge logged a 6-3 decision against Anthony Herrera of Western Wyoming to take third at 157.
Smith decisioned Tyler Baer of Rowan 12-6 for third at 174 pounds.
Baker pinned Landon Brown of Western Wyoming at 1:29.
Gonzalez earned All-American honors and Mascarenas, Trowbridge, Smith and Baker are all third-teamers.
Shawn Tillman, Scott Radke, Luke Montgomery, Josh Molinar and Colben Dodson failed to place for the Norse.