Small comes up big
COUNCIL BLUFFS — As far as Todd Small was concerned, capturing a second consecutive NJCAA national wrestling title was already accomplished well before Saturday night’s final here inside the Mid-American Center.
Small, a sophomore for Iowa Central, put the final stamp on his 133-pound championship run with a second round fall vs. Northwest Kansas’ Munkhbat Bat-erdene. Last year, the Georgia native rolled to gold at 125 pounds.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet and I think the reason for that is because I expected nothing less (than a championship) coming into the tournament,” Small said. “Anything less than a title would mean my mission was a failure.”
During his four matches over two days at nationals, Small bested Pratt’s Justin Hershberger via major decision (16-3), scored another major decision vs. seventh-ranked Gage Gomez of Barton (18-7) and knocked off Colby’s Ottis Rollins in the semifinals (11-5).
Small was the only returning champion to successfully defend his title, as Northeastern Oklahoma’s Wyatt Jordan fell in the finals and Ellsworth’s Tim Young did not place.
Last season, Small capped off his title performance with a 4-3 decision over David Campbell from Clackamas.
This time around, he didn’t allow for any suspense. An early takedown just 31 seconds into the first round set the tone, as the top-ranked Small added an escape and another takedown in the second before sticking Ben-erdene’s shoulders to the mat with 50 seconds left in the round.
“Getting the fall in the finals just made the win even better,” Small said. “I knew he was a good opponent, but I came out ready for war.”
Small became the first Triton to win the 133-pound title at nationals since Billy Murphy in 2009. Paul Collum in 2003 and Kevin Russell in 1981 also captured the weight class. Jason Alfau, Jr. and Tyler Hoffman both went back-to-back for Iowa Central in 2015-16.
“Being a two-time national champion means a lot to me and my family, along with everyone back at Iowa Central,” he said. “It just goes to show all the work that I have been putting in over the last two years with Iowa Central.”
Small, who won two state titles as a prep in Georgia, is currently uncommitted for his next stop on the mats, but plans to make a decision around April.