NJCAA National Championships
(March 1-2, 2019 Council Bluffs, Iowa)
Report from Head Coach Scott Norton
In the opening round of the national tournament Shandon Akeo 133, came away with a 9-3 decision over Joey Revelli of Western Wyoming. Josh Franich 141, then came away with a big fall over his opponent from Sullivan.
At 165, Kettner Fields kept the momentum rolling with a fall over Nick Dado Joilet. Connor Rosane then knocked off the #4 ranked Tsogtbayar Tserendagua from Northwest Kansas Tech 9-7.
Ben Gore was beaten at 184. He just kind of shut down. It was a winnable match for sure. We suffered a second loss at 197. Dan Allen lost but he is a little limited on his experience and got caught in an unusual situation.
We had a tough second round. Shandon Akeo 133, wrestled a very competitive match. He was in a position to beat the number one seed. Shandon ended up losing 12 to 10. However, he wrestled his butt off. I was proud of the way he competed.
At 141, Josh Franich got into a weird scramble and almost ended up breaking his arm. Unfortunately, in the process he went to his back and lost to a Mongolian wrestler. We have had three head-to-head contests with Northwest Kansas tech. Their team is comprised of mainly older wrestlers from Mongolia that have a lot of freestyle experience. Some of their guys are very tough.
Kettner Fields 165, lost to his opponent from Iowa Central 9-1. Then Connor Rosane 174, lost to the Number 1 seed.
Ben Gore 184, ended up tearing ligaments in his elbow in the first couple of minutes of his second match. Unfortunately, Ben had to medical forfeit out of the tournament. It’s unfortunate because it’s Ben’s last year. He has done a great job at Highline over the last two years.
Dan Allen 197, lost a close match. He just doesn’t have the mat experience. Dan is a great teammate and we have enjoyed having him on the team this year.
Round two was pretty rough.
Shandon Akeo 133, bounced back to pin his opponent from Harper in the first minute and 30 seconds. Josh Franich 141, came back a bit irritated. He pinned his opponent in a nasty arm bar.
We had a hiccup at 165. Kettner Fields was in a pretty close match and tried to force a chin whip. Unfortunately, he was not able to convert it into a takedown and lost 6-4 to a wrestler from Cloud County. Then Connor Rosane was eliminated by his opponent from Western Wyoming.
This round we are down to our final two wrestlers: Shandon Akeo 133 and Josh Franich 141. Shandon pinned his opponent from Jamestown. Josh Franich also came away with a fall over Pencook from Rowan. Both wrestlers are in the round of 12 and wrestling for all American status in the next round. Both have had excellent tournaments.
Highline Wrestling Head Coach Scott Norton just completed his 16th year running the very successful Highline wrestling program.
Participating in the Nationals
Left to Right: Assistant Coach Kurt Swartz, Ketner Fields, Ben Gore, Shandon Akeo, Josh Franich (not pictured: Dan Allen)
photo by Matt Thomson (Highline Thunderword)
Josh Franich took to the mat and pinned his guy to become an All-American. He will try to wrestle back for third tomorrow.
Shandon Akeo pretty much got robbed of being an All-American. His opponent was given a point because the referee said that Shandon poked him in the eye. Then as the match was ending Shandon had taken his wrestler down and had him on his back. However, the referee did not award a near fall. It’s frustrating when referees get involved. I don’t feel like Shandon lost that match.
Josh Franich lost his match 7 to 5 but finished as Highline’s only All-American this year. Josh had a tremendous tournament. This was actually the only time he had to go the entire match through the whole tournament.
Overall, our guys competed well and did the best they could. As a team, we finished 22nd in the nation. I’m proud of their hard work and what they accomplished this year. We will end the year with six national qualifiers and an All-American.
On the mat, the Highline College Wrestling Team is very good. In the classroom, it is a juggernaut. The team, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.34, based on its 10 starters and two extra wrestlers, won the 2018 NJCAA National Academic Championship, the 4th time the program has won this award in nine years. This is more than any other NJCAA college wrestling program. The coaching staff, led by Head Coach Scott Norton and lead assistant coach Brad Luvaas, focus on academics so their student-athletes can successfully transfer and continue their athletic and educational pursuits at a four-year college or university.
The Open Mat published a 2017 interview with Wrestling Head Coach Scott Norton, highlighting the Highline College Wrestling Program and his success in developing one of the top programs in the Pacific Northwest.
Read the interview here.
From the interview:
Your program won back to back Academic National Championships in 2014 and 2015 becoming the first program to accomplish that feat. How much of a sense of pride does that bring to you?
“I think it’s a pretty big deal. It shows that our college and program have a tremendous commitment towards education. We have actually canceled meets and pulled out of tournaments because we didn’t feel our team was where they were supposed to be academically. I am an educator myself. I have taught 5th grade since 2000 and the entire time I have been coaching at Highline. Technically, I have pretty much had two full-time jobs for 15 years. I’m sure my academic expectations have rubbed off on our teams. We also communicate to our team the importance of going to class daily and doing well in school. I am very proud of what our team has achieved academically.” Scott Norton
Dr. Coyte Cooper, an entrepreneur, author, former university professor, and NCAA All-American wrestler who competed under Scott Norton, has given a TEDx talk entitled Perspective Sparks Potential (link). In the video, Dr. Cooper encourages people to actively seek out the lesson in the adversity that they experience. Once we learn to shift our perspective, what we once thought of as a negative situation is actually a gift that propels life to an extraordinary level.
Highline College Wrestling Boosters
John Aiken – Former Auburn Head Coach
Brian Alphi – Edmonds Woodway Head Coach
Douglas Burnham – Tahoma High Assistant
Chris Chambers – Spanaway Lake Head Coach
Ricky Christian – 3 x Tahoma State Champ
Jody Coleman – Orting High Head Coach
Lou Ann Crook
Taylor and Nathan Curry
Chris Feist – Tahoma High Head Coach
Dave Gilbertson – Referee and Washington Wrestling Promoter
Steve Hadsel – Former Highline Assistant
Matt Iwicki – UW Wrestler
Brad Luvaas – Highline Assistant Coach
Elias Mason – Highline All-American
Rory McDonald – Hazen High Head Coach
Kevin McNulty – Head Coach ILWACO High
Taylor Meeks – Current Oregon State Assistant
Phred and Laurie Morin
Derek Norton – Former Highline Wrestler
Scott Norton – Highline Head Coach
Richard Rockwell – Head Coach in Oregon
Sonnen Family – Tri-Pak
Tahoma Junior Bears
Kirk White – Former Boise St. Assistant/Highline Assistant