Cardinals claim 14th title at NJCAA national tournament

In a true battle of gladiators that came down to the finals, the North Idaho College claimed the 14th NJCAA Wrestling Championship in school history. The Cardinals share this year’s title with Labette Community College (Kansas), with both teams earning 120 points. The teams entered the championship tournament in Des Moines, Iowa ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation. NIC held the top ranking the entire season.  During the tournament, NIC held the lead going into the second day of the championship round. Both NIC and Labette had four wrestlers remaining in the championship bracket and three in the consolation brackets. The two teams quickly separated themselves from the other contenders, and the team scores were close the entire afternoon. After several lead changes, NIC held a 120 to 116 lead heading into the championship finals.

The Cardinals qualified 10 wrestlers for the NJCAA tournament and came away with seven All-Americans in a true team effort. Ryan Zumwalt (165) was the lone Cardinal to reach the championship finals, losing to Labette’s Devin Aguirre to earn second-team All-American status. VJ Giulio (197) earned third-team All-American honors, with an impressive five pins during the tournament to give the Cardinals much needed bonus points. Jarrett Morrill (141) also earned third team All-American status, including an impressive pin in the consolation semi-finals to secure a come from behind victory with four seconds left in the match. Other Cardinal All-Americans: Brock Banta (125) finished fourth, Mike Carreon (133) and Jeremy Golding (149) finished fifth, and Caleb Rivera (184) finished in sixth place.

This year’s NJCAA Championship marks the fourth for NIC Head Coach Pat Whitcomb, who was earlier named the 2013 Region Coach of the Year. Labette’s Joe Renfro was voted the NJCAA Coach of the Year for his team’s effort in the co-championship.

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The NIC Wrestling team will be honored at the NIC Booster Club luncheon Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Coeur d’Alene Resort at noon in the Shore Room. The public is welcome to attend.

Posted: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013

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