Tuesday, February 13, 2024

NJCAA Plains District Preview (Saturday February 17th)


It may only be a five team District, but featuring Region 9, the Plains District is one of the toughest districts in all of the NJCAA.  Ranked wrestlers at every weight class, you can be assured that multiple All Americans will come from this District.  Taking place in Powell, Wyoming, it is hosted by Northwest CC. 

125 lbs 

4th in the NJCAA nation last season, Bridger Ricks is looking to win a Plains District title this weekend & head into Council Bluffs, Iowa looking to fight for an NJCAA title.  His finals opponent here should be A.J. Smith, one of the many reflections for the tremendous job that Terry Pack is doing at Southeastern.  In the program's first year in competition, not only is he sure to send wrestlers to the national tournament, it's a very likely bet he puts some on the award stand.  Smith being one of them. 

133 lbs 

133 lbs gives us what I believe will be another Mustang Vs Bobcat final.  Cody Phelps, 3rd in the NJCAA nation, gives Western Wyoming yet another hopeful to crown an NJCAA champion.  Lance Olberding, gives Southeast, yet another shot at the Bobcats crowing an All American in their inaugural season. 

141 lbs

I think we're looking another Mustang champion here at 141 lbs in the Plains District.  River Wardle of Western Wyoming. 

149 lbs 

Caleb Nadig gives host Northwest an opportunity to crown at Plains District champion, but he will have his hands full with Tristan Stafford of Western Wyoming.  To give an idea of just how good Stafford has been this season, keep in mind that he's starting for the Mustangs & that Chris Lopez who was 4th in the NJCAA nation last year is not.  Another wrestler to watch for here will be Bronson Richins of Northeastern, an NJCAA qualifier last year. 

157 lbs 

An NJCAA qualifier last season, my pick for a champion at 157 lbs is Northeastern's Channing Warner. 

165 lbs

Very tough weight class featuring three NJCAA All American candidates.  Jayden Luttrell of Western Wyoming was 5th in the NJCAA nation last season as he'll do battle with both Orrin Jackson of Northwest & Dallas Porter of Otero.  Another wrestler to watch for here is T.J. Moffit of Northeastern who was an NJCAA qualifier last year. 

174 lbs          

The Mustangs look to crown another Plains District Champion at 174 lbs in Will Harmon. 

184 lbs 

This could very well end up being our NJCAA final in a couple of weeks as well.  The last time these two tremendous talents met, Johnson came away with hard fought 6-4 victory.  Can the Mustang, who was 2nd in the NJCAA nation last season beat the future Kirghizistan international star three times in a row? He'll have to if he wants to call himself both Plains District, as well as NJCAA champion this season.  Fayzullaev won a Plains District title last year, for the record. 

197 lbs 

I believe Western Wyoming will continue to show their dominance within the Plains District by crowing Wesley Reeves champion here at 197.  As to our runner-up?  I say the Bobcats continue to prove themselves as the NJCAA (perhaps in all of collegiate wrestling) newcomers of the year, & place Tyler Stewart in the finals. 


HWT mirrors 184 in more than one way.  First and foremost, our final here at the Plains District, could very well end up being our final at the NJCAA tournament.  If 5th in the NJCAA nation last season Cody Pinkerton of Northwest wants to collect two gold medals between now & the end of the season, he's going to have to beat Dmarian Lopez of Western Wyoming two times in a row.  The last the two met, after a scoreless first period, Pinkerton hit an escape straight to the back for a 4:29 fall in the second.  If the Trapper can pin the Mustang two more times in a row, I think that may call for NJCAA MOW of the year.   As to our bronze medalist? All in all, I say the Southeast Bobcats are looking at, at least four NJCAA qualifiers, if not more.  Again, for a first year program, especially in a district as tough as the Plains, that is truly saying something.  Kazz Hyson being among them. 

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