Northland wrestlers finish 25th at NJCAA Tournament
Council Bluffs, Iowa – Northland sophomore heavyweight Andre Baguma concluded his second and final season at the junior college level with a sixth-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament Friday and Saturday, March 6-7 at the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Overall, Northland wrestlers amassed 17 team points to finish 25th overall and seventh among NJCAA non-scholarship programs.
Baguma, Fargo, N.D., was one win away from the medal stand in his first national tournament last year. Baguma was seeded fifth in this year’s tournament. He drew a first-round bye in the 29-man bracket and reached the quarterfinals with a workman-line 6-3 win over Darius Wilkins of Pratt.
In Friday night’s quarterfinal round, Baguma faced fourth-seeded and second-ranked JJ Perez of Southwest Oregon. Baguma and Perez wrestled to a scoreless first period. Baguma earned an escape 10 seconds into the second period to take a 1-0 lead, but Perez quickly tied the match after Baguma was called for stalling twice while defending shots.
Perez took a 2-1 lead early in the third period and he appeared to be content to win 2-1. Baguma stayed on the attack and chased Perez around the mat. In the process, Perez was called for stalling twice to send the match to overtime with a 2-2 score.
In the overtime period, Baguma continued taking ground like he had in the third period. He forced Perez to take a bad shot and countered with a shot of his own to win 4-2 and secure a spot in the Saturday morning’s semifinals.
Baguma’s tournament didn’t get any easier on day two. He opened the day with a loss by fall to top-seeded and eventual national champion Boone McDermott of Iowa Central. McDermott broke a scoreless first-period tie with a two-on-one fireman’s carry to put Baguma on his back before securing the fall.
Baguma’s opponent in the consolation semifinals was third-seeded Dan Baker of Northeast Oklahoma. Baker and Baguma pummeled for position for most of the first period. With Baker pushing hard, Baguma attempted a lateral drop that Baker countered to secure the win by fall over Baguma.
Wrestling in the fifth and sixth place match, Baguma and unseeded but third-ranked Tommy Mommer of Clackamas wrestled to a scoreless first period. Baguma chose down to start the second period and almost got away on the initial start. On the restart, Mommer was able to get both legs in and he punished Baguma with a tough leg ride before turning and pinning the Northland heavyweight.
Fellow sophomore Payton Jackson had a good run and came close to an All-American finish of his own. Jackson opened the tournament with a win by fall over Chris Folkens of Middlesex County. Jackson, Detroit Lakes, was pinned by third-seeded Ladamien Sturdivant of Iowa Western in the second round but bounced back with a 21-6 technical fall win over Thomas Hoffman of Camden County to conclude the morning session.
Jackson needed two wins in Friday night’s evening session to reach the medal stand, but the dream ended with a loss by fall to Jack Karsetter of Labette in the consolation round of 16.
Also scoring points for the Pioneers was Kaven Blazek at 165 pounds. The sophomore from Deerwood pinned Jeff Nugent of Harper as time expired in the second period of the opening round. He was eliminated with a 19-3 technical fall loss to Chinges Tsermaa of Northwest Kansas Tech and a loss by fall to Tykease Baker of Ancilla in the second round of consolation wrestling.
Northland’s three freshmen struggled in their first crack at the NJCAA national tournament. Austin Thompson, 125, Grafton, N.D.,; Jerimiah Pierre, 149, Lawrenceville, Ga.; and Raul Chavarry, 157, Miami, Fla., each went 0-2.
The Northland wrestling team set a new program record with six national qualifiers in 2020. Several program records also fell at the NJCAA National Championships.
With the sixth-place finish, Baguma became just the fourth All-American in Northland’s seven seasons of wrestling since the program was reinstated. Baguma’s sixth-place finish is the highest ever for a Northland wrestler at the national tournament.
Other records that were set include:
- Three wrestlers scoring team points. Northland had anywhere from two to five qualifiers in each of the previous six seasons, but never had more than two wrestlers score team points in a given tournament.
- 17 team points is a new record, breaking the 15.5 total scored by the 2015 team led by an All-American seventh-place finish by current Northland assistant coach Craig Williams.
- The 25th place finish is the second time in program history that Northland has cracked the top-25 overall.
NJCAA Wrestling Championships Team Scores: 1. Clackamas 133.5; 2. Northeast Oklahoma 108.5; 3. Iowa Western 104; 3. Rochester* 104; 5. Ellsworth 101; 6. Western Wyoming 100; 7. Nassau* 70; 8. Iowa Central 69; 9. North Idaho 68; 10. Niagara* 62; 11. Harper* 60; 12. North Iowa Area 55.5; 13. Iowa Lakes 53; 13. Pratt 53; 15. Cowley 52; 16. Southwest Oregon 48.5; 17. Rowan* 46; 18. Northeastern 40.5; 19. Northwest 38.5; 20. Labette 27.5; 21. Neosho 19; 21. Northwest Kansas Tech 19; 21. Triton 19; 24. Jamestown* 18.5; 25. Northland* 17; 26. Ancilla 15.5; 27. Mercyhurst* 15; 28. Highline College 13.5; 29. Itasca* 12.5; 29. St. Claire County 12.5; 31. Barton 11.5; 32. Spartanburg Methodist 11; 33. Colby 10.5; 34. Joliet* 9; 34. Muskegon 9; 36. Henry Ford 8; 37. Minnesota West* 7.5; 38. Umpqua 6.5; 39. Middlesex County* 6; 40. Cloud 5.5; 40. Thaddeus Stevens* 5.5; 42. Bergen 4; 42. Garrett 4; 44. Camden County* 3.5; 45. Union County* 2.5; 46. Otero 2; 47. Lackawanna 0.5; 47. Ulster* 0.5; 49. Arkansas Baptist 0; 49. Ridgewater* 0; 49. Sullivan* 0. (*Non-scholarship program)
- 125: Austin Thompson, 0-2, DNP, 0 team points – def. by Corwin Stratchan, Cowley, fall 4:51; def. by Cody Wood, St. Claire County, 5-2.
- 133: Payton Jackson, 2-2, DNP, 5 team points – def. Chris Folkens, Middlesex County, fall 2:35; def. by Ladamien Sturdivant, Iowa Western, fall 2:42; def. Thomas Hoffman, Camden County, tech fall 21-6; def. by Jack Karsetter, Labette, fall 1:26.
- 149: Jerimiah Pierre, 0-2, DNP, 0 team points – def. by Ashton Philburn, St. Claire County, 7-3; def. by Aaron Morris, Mercyhurst, tech fall 16-0.
- 157: Raul Chavarry, 0-2, DNP, 0 team points – def. Spencer Head, Mercyhurst, fall 2:05; def. by Jayden Johnson, Thaddeus Stevens, fall 1:12.
- 165: Kaven Blazek, 1-2, DNP, 3 team points – def. Jeff Nugent, Harper, fall 5:00; def. by Chinges Tsermaa, Northwest Kansas Tech, tech fall 19-3; def. by Tykease Baker, Ancilla, fall 0:49.
- 285: Andre Baguma, 2-3, 6th place, 9 team points – Andre Baguma received a bye; def. Darius Wilkins, Pratt, 6-3; def. JJ Perez, Southwest Oregon, 4-2 (OT); def. by Boone McDermott, Iowa Central, 1:19; def. by Dan Baker, Northeast Oklahoma, fall 2:01; def. by Tommy Mommer, Clackamas, fall 3:52.