Southwestern Michigan qualifies nine for NJCAA Nationals

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, February 18, 2023

PALATINE, Ill. — The unprecedented success of the Southwestern Michigan College wrestling program’s return to competition for the first time in three decades continued Saturday.

The Roadrunners finished third at the National Junior College Athletic Association Great Lakes District hosted by Harper College. Triton College, ranked No. 9 in the latest rankings captured the team championship with 151 points, while host Harper College, tied for No. 10 in the rankings, finished second with 146 points. Both are Division 1 wrestling programs

Southwestern Michigan, a Division 2 program, was third with 104.5 point. The Roadrunners qualified all but one of the 10 wrestlers who competed on Saturday. Three wrestlers were runners-up, two finished third, one placed fourth and two more finished fifth.

The top five wrestlers in each weight class advance to the NJCAA National Championships in Council Bluffs, Iowa. That meet begins March 4.

The Roadrunners also had one wrestler advance as an at-large pick. There are two at-large selections from the tournament and are based on the toughness of a particular weight class.

Finishing second for Southwestern Michigan were Zam Thompson (Eaton Rapids/Lakeshore) at 149-pounds, Gage Ensign (Constantine) at 157-pounds and Shane Edwards (Battle Creek/Pennfield) at 285-pounds.

Placing third were Gabe Livingston (Battle Creek/Lakeview) at 133 and former Brandywine standout Hunter Heath (Niles) at 165. Finishing fourth was former Decatur standout Jared Checkley at 174, while former Dowagiac standout Jordan Simpson (125) and Pickney’s Vinny Patierno (197) both placed fifth.

The Roadrunner’s Matthew Martinez (Battle Creek/Harper Creek) earned the at-large bid at 141 pounds.