Iowa Central third at nationals

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Dayton Racer of Iowa Central wrestles against Ryan Faught on Wednesday

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The Iowa Central wrestling team kicked off 2017 with a third place finish here Friday at the NWCA National Duals.

After falling to eventual winner Clackamas in the semifinals, the second-ranked Tritons bounced back with a commanding 30-12 victory over league rival Ellsworth for third.

In the finals, sixth-ranked Clackamas downed No. 1 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, 23-9.

“I thought we had the dual with (Clackamas) in our grasp at one point,” ICCC head coach Luke Moffitt said. “We had some close matches, but they pulled it out and deserved the title.

“I really feel like (our semifinal) was the championship match because of the kind of dual we had.”

Iowa Central overcame a slow start to upend the fifth-rated Panthers, as De’Andre Reed, Brandon Murray, Dayton Racer, Brady Vogel, Danny Bush and Thomas Petersen all scored wins. Murray, Racer, Vogel and Petersen had falls in the dual.

The Tritons were unable to overcome Clackamas in the final four, dropping a 23-17 decision. Todd Small, Racer, Bush and Petersen picked up individual victories. Bush had a fall and Petersen a major decision.

“For our kids to bounce back and beat a good Ellsworth team, that was a good way to end the day,” Moffitt said. “We wanted the title, but we’ll get another look at them down the road.”

Wartburg and Grand View each claimed titles in their respective divisions. The Knights defeated Augsburg, 31-9, to win the Div. III crown for a seventh consecutive year, while the Vikings topped Indiana Tech, 30-8, for the NAIA gold for a sixth consecutive time. St. Cloud was the Div. II champion.

Iowa Central returns home this Wednesday to Hodges Fieldhouse for a rematch with Ellsworth. Action begins at 7 p.m.