Tritons host district wrestling meet
Over the past several months, the Iowa Central wrestling team has been working with an eye on this very weekend.
The third-ranked Tritons host the Central District Championship inside Hodges Fieldhouse Sunday, with spots in the upcoming NJCAA National Championship on the line.
As defending national champions, Iowa Central has competed with a huge target on its back all season long. Following a brief adjustment period, though, head coach Luke Moffitt’s crew has caught fire in recent weeks, scoring convincing wins over ICCAC rivals Ellsworth and Iowa Western.
Sunday’s action will be nothing short of a preview of what is to come at nationals, as the Panthers are ranked seventh, the Reivers ninth, Iowa Lakes is 10th and NIACC sits 11th.
“It doesn’t matter if we beat them earlier in the year — can you win matches in the postseason?” Moffitt said. “Every match is high stakes. Being able to win with a little more on the line is the key and what we want out of our guys.”
Kevin Radcliff, who claimed a title at the Duhawk Open hosted by Coe College recently, is at 125 pounds for Iowa Central, with defending national champion and top-ranked Todd Small coming in at 133.
Eric Clarke and Riley Palmer are at 141 and 149, with fourth-ranked Ethan Karsten at 157. Karsten also captured gold at the Duhawk Open.
Karsten is the only ICCAC wrestler to defeat No. 1 Steven Lawrence of Ellsworth this season. NIACC’s Austin Anderly is the top-ranked grappler at 141.
“We were able to build some momentum late in the season and we are hoping to carry that right over into the postseason,” Moffitt said. “It’s also important that we come out and score bonus points because we are going to need to do that at the national tournament.”
Jose Rodriguez will compete at 165, and Brady Vogel is at 174. Vogel has won his last three conference matches.
For the Tritons at 184 pounds will be Antrez Clagon, with No. 4 Tyree Sutton at 197. Sutton is the only conference wrestler to defeat No. 1 Tim Young of Ellsworth this year.
Gunner Cash rounds out the lineup at heavyweight.
Qualifying procedures for regionals is a little different, as each district shall qualify no greater than 70 percent of the total participants within that specific district. A maximum of nine wild-card entrants can be selected within a district.
Also, since Region XI is the host district for nationals, they may add one additional wrestler for each weight class above the 70 percent rule.
“It’s nice for our guys being at home and for the fans that don’t have a chance to travel,” Moffitt said. “They should be a little more comfortable at home.”
Nationals are Feb. 23-24 in Council Bluffs at the Mid-America Center. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M is ranked No. 1 followed by Clackamas. Behind the Tritons are Western Wyoming at No. 4 and Northwest Wyoming rounding out the Top-5.
IOWA CENTRAL LINEUP
125: Kevin Radcliff
133: Todd Small
141: Eric Clarke
149: Riley Palmer
157: Ethan Karsten
165: Jose Rodriguez
174: Brady Vogel
184: Antrez Clagon
197: Tyree Sutton
285: Gunner Cash