Clackamas Community College Cougars dethrone North Idaho in Region 18 Championship!
Six Cougars claim individual titles in landslide victory
February 13, 2011

Clackamas celebrates following its regional championship

COOS BAY, Or -- the Clackamas CC Wrestling team put an exclamation point on a frustrating decade of many runner up finishes to perennial National powerhouse North Idaho College as they cruised to a 12 point team victory over the grappling titans from Coeur d'Alene Saturday.

The two squads entered Saturday's action in Southern Oregon as the two top-ranked junior college programs in the country [rankings] and were battling it out with other regional teams - Highline CC (Des Moines, WA), Southwestern Oregon CC (Coos Bay, OR) and Yakima Valley CC (Yakima, WA) - to qualify their athletes for the NJCAA National Tournament in Spokane in two weeks.

When the dust cleared following the qualifier rounds, both North Idaho (NIC) and CCC had seven wrestlers representing their programs entering the finals; Four of those title matches, 133, 165, 174 and HWT weight classes were head-to-head.

NIC got rolling in the title round as third-ranked Kyle McCrite took an overtime 1-0 win over Highline's second-ranked Steven Romero for the 125 pound title.

CCC got it first individual championship the following match at 133 pounds when eighth-ranked Martin Gonzalez stunned NIC's third-ranked Brock Banta in a 2-1 overtime decision. Cody Randall followed Gonzalez's performance with and 11-5 decision over SW Oregon's John Covey at 141 pounds for CCC's second individual title. Unranked Cougar Billy Goldsberry had to settle for second place in the 149 pound title match as he found himself on the wrong end of a 23-8 technical fall to Highline's second-ranked Jason Gray.

North Idaho collected it's second individual title at 157 when third-ranked Jeremy Bommarito found just enough in a 2-0 decision over second-ranked Eric Jones of Highline.

A pair of Clackamas 2010 All-Americans then reeled off two more championships against North Idaho opponents at 165 and 174. Second-ranked Derek Mestrovich decisioned eighth-ranked Jake Mason 8-3 for the 165 title while top-ranked Terrence Williams edged second-ranked Jesse Nielson 4-2 at 174. 2009 All-American Brett Sanchez sealed CCC's fifth individual title and the program's team championship with a 7-3 decision over Yakima Valley's Teagan Franco at 184 pounds.

Top-ranked Jamelle Jones won a hard fought 12-7 decision over SW Oregon's sixth-ranked Bo Younker in the 197 pound class to bring NIC its third individual championship.

2009 NJCAA 285 pound Champion Tyrell Fortune ensured his Clackamas teammates an earlier exit for dinner when he pinned North Idaho's ninth-ranked Matt Foxworthy in 1:40 to complete Clackamas' title run. Clackamas qualified all ten members of its squad for the National tournament.

Along with the first and second place finishers, wrestlers placing third and fourth are also guaranteed a trip to nationals. For CCC, fifth-ranked Matt Melendrez placed third at 157 to qualify while sixth-ranked Kegan Handlovic (125) and Brett Fredickson (197) finished fourth in very competitive weight classes.

"We wrestled pretty well as a group this weekend," said head coach Josh Rhoden. "I am very excited for our team and the fact that we qualified all 10 of our athletes for the Nationals.?

While Rhoden, his staff and the squad can certainly take pride in the outcome, he intends to keep his troops focused on the main prize, "While this is a very nice win and a lot of fun, we understand that this is simply a qualifying event and we still have work to do over the next several weeks. This is a really great thing for our alumni, fans and the college but we must continue to have our sights set on Spokane!"

Several 4-yr coaches were on hand for the event including Oregon State's Jim Zalesky who has secured commitments from both Williams and Fortune for next season.

The region championship represents Clackamas' first since 1971 which was also the last time the Cougars won the National Championship.