Featuring Region 11, the North Central District or as I like to affectionately refer to it, "The Iowa Jucos" qualifier will take place on Sunday in Estherville, Iowa. Nearly on the complete opposite side of the state as I am. I'm often taken aback of how some think of Iowa as being relatively small. Estherville is a good 4 1/2 to 5 hours from where I live. I could make St. Louis, Milwaukee, & Chicago all faster. And I could make both Kansas City & Minneapolis in the same amount of time. Hell, even Omaha is closer. Iowa may not be Texas, but it isn't exactly Rhode Island either. With my little tangent aside, I'm particularly excited to announce that the North Central District will be one team bigger next season! Hawkeye Community College is adding wrestling. Love to see the other Iowa CC's pull their heads out of their Frances The Talking Mules & do the same. With all of that aside, this is going to be a great tournament. One to make if you live in Iowa & you're on the complete opposite side of the state as me.
This may very well be held in the state of Iowa, with all Iowa teams, but here at 125 lbs, I think we have a final of a Pennsylvania standout taking on a Texas standout, high schooly speaking anyway. Trentin Walker has, as have many former Tritons, had quite the season. IHCC produced an All American in Riley Bettich last season & Gibbs has done an outstanding job of filling in for him in '23-'24.
An NJCAA All American for the Reivers last season, Paul Ruff looks at winning a North Central District title tomorrow & then earning another AA in the biggest tournament of the season, hosted by his home school. Could have some competition from Arojae Hart of Indian Hills & I'm anxious to see what Ayden Rader may be capable of despite being currently unranked. Rader was 3rd here last year & could likely earn 3rd again.
Now here is a tough freaking weight class. Four ranked wrestlers, and all of these guys are All American material. Our final here is most likely going to be between Malachi Bordovsky, who was 6th in the NJCAA nation last season & Isaac Church. The last these two met, Church escaped with a tight 2-1 decision. I would say we're probably looking at another 1 or 2 point decision. Duking it out for 3rd will most likely be Aiden Crawler of Iowa Lakes & Paul Ishikawa of Indian Hills. With that said, Post-season tournaments are a breeding ground for upsets. We're bound to see some tomorrow & Nick Natarcola strikes me as one who might perform some. He was 3rd earlier this year at the Yellow Jacket Open.
An NJCAA champion last season, Matt Sarbo may very well be the best wrestler in the Juco world of wrestling. I'm very excited to see where he ends up going after his junior college wrestling career is a said and done thing. While Cordell White of NIACC is a fine wrestler in his own right, one that will contend for All American honors, it just goes to show how good Sarbo really is. Sarbo won by technical fall the last the two met.
157 lbs is the only weight class that doesn't feature a ranked wrestler here in the North Central District. Makes it a little harder to predict how things might go, but not impossible. If I had to place a bet on a winner, I'd go with Jake Chrisholm of Iowa Western. He's wrestled fairly well this season. Has two wins over Cory Scanlan of NIACC, who took an impressive 2nd place finish at the Coe Invitational. Also have a tough Josiah Schaertzlo of Iowa Central in this bracket as well. Scanlan defeated him 2-1 in their last meeting.
Reivers look to claim another North Central District Champion in Cole Price, who was 5th at the NJCAA nationals a year ago. His finals opponent will most likely be Michael Myers, who probably doesn't look like that, but I'm sick of searching for photos of him at this point. Seriously, Iowa Central one of the most storied and accomplished programs not only in NJCAA history, but in college wrestling period. Can't even get photos of their team members. Nonetheless, Myers doesn't exactly terrorize the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, but he can be rather terrorizing on the mat. I'd also look for Peyton Asbury, despite being unranked to do well. 4th a year ago, I think he does himself a spot better this tournament.
Pretty sure our North Central District Final at 174 lbs will be between Jaquan East of Indian Hills & Lawrence Rosario of Iowa Central. The last these two All American candidates met, it was a 7-2 decision for East. Anxious to see if we have a similar outcome between the two tomorrow.
Semi finals, finals, and consolation finals, 184 lbs might very well end up being the best bracket of the entire North Central District. Thus far Florida native Jessey Colas of NIACC has been having himself one heck of a good season. Defeated Brent Greenfield of Ellsworth who was 2nd here & 7th in the NJCAA nation last season by a 9-6 score. Also owns a 10-3 decision over Trystin Irvin of Iowa Central. As we evaluate the rest of the bracket, Darion Thompson of Indian Hills would love to be in the finals & although unranked Kolby Larson of Iowa Western could pose a threat. He was an NJCAA qualifier last season.
197 lbs in the North Central District really cleared out after last season. Not sure if it'd make a huge difference but it might. John Lovett who was 4th in the NJCAA nation, Zavione Willis who was 3rd here in the North Central District & Drew Fox who finished a match shy of All American honors are all gone. Yet, Luke MacDonald is ranked #1 for good reason & even if they were all back, he still very well might be the favorite going in to tomorrow's tournament.
Got some tough wrestlers here at HWT. C.J. Carter of Iowa Western had to beat out Deacon Haag, a qualifier for the Reivers last year, just to make the varsity. Now he's one of the top wrestlers in the NJCAA, who will not only be looking for a title here at the North Central District, but also at the NJCAA's. Iowa Central in sort of a similar situation. I'm not sure if D.J. Moehring is outright beating Hugo Harp who was 6th in the NJCAA nation last season or not. I suppose he could be defeating him head to head in wrestle-offs, but I'm curious if there's something else to the story. Like everything else in Fort Dodge, may it remain a mystery. With that said, we also have a tough Treyshawn White of Indian Hills who will be competing tomorrow as well.