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Triton wrestlers begin national trek

COUNCIL BLUFFS — After nearly a month of preparing, the Iowa Central wrestling team will begin their NJCAA Championship quest.

The two-day event begins Wednesday in Council Bluffs at 9:30 a.m.

Jose Rodriguez, a returning All-American for the Tritons, was awarded the No. 1 seed at 174 pounds. Freshman Phil Smith Jr. also earned a Top-4 spot, as he’ll begin his first nationals as the No. 3 seed at 149 pounds.

Aidan Harris, ranked sixth at 125 pounds, faces Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s Dalen Moore in the opening round. He could draw Cameron Enriquez of Clackamas in the second. Enriquez is ranked second.

At 133 pounds, Yoseph Yilma meets Cameron Haslem from St. Clair County with a potential second round meeting vs. No. 4 ranked Caleb Meekins of Indian Hills on the horizon.

Bret Minor battles Garrett’s Brady Villa in the first and could have No. 1 and defending national champion Blake Gonzalez of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the quarterfinals. Smith meets Joe Carpenter of Mott with No. 8 Brandon Kidd from Rochester also in his part of the draw.

At 157 pounds, Andrew Gamble, ranked sixth, meets Noah Wusstig of Southwestern Oregon. Third-ranked Dayton Porsch from Pratt is in his immediate draw.

Keaton Geerts faces Colby’s Kody Hahn at 165 pounds. Geerts, ranked sixth, has a pair of ranked wrestlers in his portion of the field. Rodriguez faces Muskegon’s Glen Kuharevicz and has No. 2 Jesse Nunez of Cowley in the top-half of the draw.

Jesus Gutierrez will meet Steve Liebler of Niagara County at 184 pounds in the first round while Hugo Harp gets Lance Wagner from Minnesota West at 197.

In the heavyweight bracket, Iowa Central’s Jorden Pryor, ranked fifth, takes on Cooper Hise from Southwestern Oregon. Pryor and No. 8 Wyatt Kearn of Western Wyoming could meet in the second round.

Returning national champions include Pratt’s Michael Spangler (125 pounds), Jake Beeson from Pratt (149) and Isaiah Crosby of Iowa Western (157).

The first session runs from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with doors opening at 8:30 a.m. The second is set for 6-9 p.m. with 5 p.m. for doors opening. On Thursday, wrestling begins at 10:30 a.m. through noon with doors opening at 9:30 a.m.

The fourth and final session begins at 6:30 p.m. with doors opening an hour before for the crowning of national champions.

Spectators will be allowed with state and local guidelines continuing to be monitored. Face masks are required for everyone and must be worn at all times.

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