The Clackamas Community College wrestling team found itself in a familiar place Friday: on top.
The Cougars finished first in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championships, outpacing Iowa Central by 9.5 points in the team race — and clinching the national title for the fourth consecutive year.
“This was a very remarkable group of young men who came together to achieve something very exceptional,” CCC wrestling head coach Josh Rhoden said. “They believed in their training, each other and trusted the process, which I think is why we saw some of our best wrestling at the end of the year.”
The contest came down to the wire, with four Cougars in the championship final and one win needed to seal CCC’s victory and prevent a comeback from Iowa Central.
When CCC’s Alex Ramirez came out triumphant in the 157-pound weight class, he secured the national championship, not only for himself but his team as well.
The win marks the Cougars’ fourth national championship in a row, the program’s sixth championship overall and the fifth during Rhoden’s tenure.
“Our coaches did a great job preparing this team, and I want to thank them for their time and effort,” Rhoden said. “This team was inspired, selfless and hard-working and that reflects the coaching staff.”
In other individual results, Justin Mejia (133), Marckis Branford (141) and Steele Starren (165) were the national runners-up in their respective weight classes.
Victor Jacinto clinched third at 149, Nicolas Aguilar fourth at 125 and Michael Gasper fifth at 197. Trent Silva (174) and Kyle Richards (285) contributed points with sixth-place finishes.
Romeo Manue (184) was the only Cougar to fail to place, compiling a 2-2 record in the national tourney.
In team scores, Clackamas finished on top with 136.5, followed by Iowa Central at 127. Northeastern Oklahoma (118), Western Wyoming (116.5) and North Iowa Area (109) rounded out the top five.
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