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Clackamas claims National Championship
Fortune repeats as heavyweight champion
SPOKANE, WA -- The Clackamas wrestling team celebrated the 40th anniversary of the program's first national title in 1971 with its second Saturday night in Spokane. In the end, CCC easily outpaced runner-up North Idaho College by 10.5 points, 109 - 98.5. Heavyweight Tyrell Fortune capped off the event by winning his second National title at 285 with a 4-3 decision over Iowa Central's Seth McGregor.
Cougars celebrate following the trophy presentation
The Cougars didn't sit on the laurels of their region championship two weeks ago and came to Eastern Washington ready to prove to the country that their number one ranking wasn't a fluke.
Friday's action saw North Idaho College hold the top spot most of the day, until the championship quarter finals when CCC climbed from fifth to claim first place in the field of 36 teams at day's end. The Cougars held a slim 1.5 point lead over region rival North Idaho and five points over third place Iowa Central.
Tyrell Fortune throws Iowa Central's Seth McGregor in the 285lbs title match.
After the dust settled Friday evening six of CCC's ten wrestlers were still in action heading into Saturday with five still in the championship round (semifinals) and one in the consolation wrestle-back for third place.
CCC should have been stunned when the team lost 2010 returning All-American and top-ranked 174 pounder Terrence Williams to injury in Friday's quarterfinals, but the squad appeared unfazed as they went on with business as usual - a sign of solid coaching from head coach Josh Rhoden and his assistants Bret Born and Rich Vigorito.
At the tournament's end, the Cougars compiled six NJCAA All-Americans with six top five placings - 133 Martin Gonzalez (4th), 141 Cody Randall (5th), 157 Matt Melendrez (4th), 165 Derek Mestrovich (2nd), 184 Brett Sanchez (3rd) and Fortune with the 285 title.
Of the six day two qualifiers, returning 2009 All-American Sanchez had perhaps the most grueling road to follow. After losing his opener in a 7-0 upset, Sanchez dropped to the consolation side of the bracket where he systematically eliminated six opponents, including third and fifth ranked 184 pounders to stake claim to third place.
Fortune probably faced the strongest field the NJCAA has seen in the heavyweight division in years. In his four matches to the title, he had to face three opponents ranked in the top five in the country. Fortune earned victories on a pair of falls, a major and a 4-3 decision in the final. Not nearly as easy as in 2009 when he pinned all five opponents on his way to his first championship.
A strong third round comeback attempt in the 165lbs championship was not enough for top-ranked Mestrovich as he fell to Rend Lake's second-ranked Issiah Williams in a 10-4 decision. Mestrovich had cruised into the final with a decision and two convincing wins including a 17-4 major decision over #4-ranked Dan McGillivary of Iowa Lakes.
Fifth-ranked Gonzalez fell in the 133 pound semifinals in a close 3-2 decision to the eventual 133 champion, but bounced back with a win in the consolations to get to the third place match. Gonzalez had to settle for fourth place, however, as he made a critical mistake early in the match resulting in a pin to second-ranked Brandon Wright of Iowa Central.
Fortune and Tim Williams pictured together. Prior to Fortune, Williams was the last CCC wrestler to win back-to-back individual titles in '71 & '72.
Randall, who entered the tournament with a #7 ranking at 141, came out of the doors flying on Friday with a tech fall, a pin and a 9-2 decision before falling to the 141 pound runner-up in the semis in a narrow 5-4 double overtime loss. Randall picked up the pieces of the tough loss and eventually took fifth.
Melendrez also had a strong opening day with a 9-4 decision and a pin before losing a 6-1 semifinal decision to second-ranked PJ Starnes of Harper who went on to win the 157 title. Melendrez won his next match with a fall to get to the third place match where he got majored by Gloucester's ninth-ranked Justin Pencock.
Williams along with Kegan Handlovic (125), Billy Goldsberry (149) and Brett Fredrickson (197) all added to the CCC team scores with wins on day one. Unranked Fredrickson also collected team bonus points with another stunning pin of fifth-ranked Bo Younker of SW Oregon. Fredrickson also pinned Younker last month in a match at Clackamas.
Rhoden, in only his fifth year as head coach, was selected NJCAA National Coach of the Year and at age 30 is one of the youngest coaches ever to win a national team wrestling title. In his previous four years, Rhoden has guided the Cougars to 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th place finishes and has produced 24 All-Americans in his tenure with the program.
Head coach Josh Rhoden is presented the Coach of the Year award from Tournament Director Al Williams.
CCC had a strong contingent of fans in the stands along with Tim Williams, the last Cougar to win back-to-back national titles. Williams won 142 pound titles in 1971, when CCC won its last title, and again in '72.
Rhoden and staff will be bidding goodbye at the end of the year to Williams and Fortune who are headed to Oregon State next season and to Mestrovich, Fredrickson, Sanchez and Goldsberry who are undecided on their school of choice.