The Clackamas Community College wrestling team fell short of their second consecutive national championship last Saturday, coming in fourth at the National Junior College Athletic Association championships in Rochester, Minn.
Clackamas advanced six wrestlers to the final round of competition where wrestlers compete for placings. Of the six wrestlers to advance, only Austin Morehead was undefeated in the double elimination tournament.
Entering the last day of the tournament, Clackamas sat in fourth place with 69.5 points, only four points behind Lincoln College for third. They had already lost Sage Ornelas (125), Clinton McAlister (149), Nikko Veltri (157), and Nick Sierra (165). The four had scored a combined 10.5 points before being eliminated.
Saturday didn't fare well for the Cougars, who lost match after match by tantalizingly close margins. To start things off, Martin Gonzalez (133) lost his match on an injury default to take fourth place and 10 team points. Moments later, second ranked Cody Randall (141) was pinned in fight for third place and dropped back to take fourth after scoring 14.5 points for the Cougars.
Next up was freshman Trent Noon wrestling for third place in the 174 lb. division. Noon lost a close one, giving up the decision 4-3 after scoring a total of 17.5 team points. Clackamas followed up the loss with yet another injury, this time to Rudi Burtschi (197), who took sixth place.
The last match-up of the early afternoon was freshman Jake Laden (285), who lost 4-2 to take fourth place in his weight class for a total of 12.5 team points.
Saturday night saw the only championship match for Clackamas, who had six top five placings a year ago including the 285 division title. Morehead lost a close match, falling 9-8 to John McArdle of Middlesex Community College to take second place overall.
In the end, it was only Clackamas' past success that made their trip to nationals even begin to look like a letdown. Clackamas finished with five top five wrestlers and 97 points, ahead of fifth place Nassau Community College by 10 and leading Region 18 rivals North Idaho College by 12.
The trip was Clackamas' sixth in a row to the national competition, and this season marks the third time since 2009 that the Cougars have finished in the top five nationally.