Snow College wrestlers make impression at nationals

The Snow College men’s and women’s wrestling teams fought hard at their first NJCAA national competition, with four wrestlers securing All-American selections — Hayes Dalton, 184 pounds; Ashlea Larson, 143 pounds; Corrie Williams, 136 pounds; and Angela Van Valkenburg, 155 pounds.

The men’s team began Friday’s competition strong with Jaxon Johnson, Jacob Waddoups, Zachary Johnson, and Hayes Dalton all winning their first matches.

Christian Slack, 197, lost his first match against Brock Johnson of Jamestown Community College in overtime, following a 5-5 tie in the third quarter. Slack fought hard but was overtaken by Brock after a long and evenly-matched battle.

David Herring lost his first round match but gained momentum in his second bout against Jacob Rahn of Iowa Lakes Community College, as he pinned his competitor in under five minutes. He was then defeated in the following match by decision, 2-0.

“Our strengths over the season have been our ability to fight for a whole match and to wrestle really tough on top,” said coach Kimball Bastian. “We made our opponents pay when we got them on the mat.”

Dalton fought hard as he won each of his first three bouts, two by fall and a third by a decision, 14-12, against the No. 1 seed from Northeastern Oklahoma, Jackson White. Dalton was then defeated by Jameel Coles of Northwest Kansas Tech in the semifinal matchup.

“We wrestled tough at Nationals,” said Bastian. “Over the season the guys have earned some street credit for being hard to wrestle against. Win or lose, our men fought each match.”

The Badgers ended their first season in 22nd place out of 56 teams at the NJCAA National tournament. This includes one All-American title, given to Hayes Dalton who finished sixth in the 184-pound weight class.

“I think the biggest moments came in the postseason,” said Bastian. “For a first-year team to qualify six for nationals and to have an All American on our team means a lot.”

Women’s Team

The Snow College women’s wrestling team finished in seventh place with three Badgers claiming positions within the top four spots of their weight classes and being declared All Americans.

“Our women did awesome at the NJCAA national tournament,” said coach Ross Taylor. “As a first-year program with all freshman women from Utah, they performed very well.”

Van Valkenburg received a bye in her first match and proceeded into her second against Suravieve Robertson of IHCC and was defeated 4-0.

She continued on in the consolation bracket, winning three bouts where she again, was placed against Robertson, losing the match by decision, 2-0. That earned Van Valkenburg fourth place in the 155-pound weight class.

“All of our women have improved significantly this year and I am proud of their performance,” said Taylor. “Half of them came onto the team having never wrestled freestyle before this year.”

Williams won her first two matches then lost her third bout against Alondra Martinez from IHCC by a major decision, moving her to the consolation bracket.

Williams went on to win her fourth bout in the consolation semifinals, placing her in the matchup for third place against Annabel Garcia of UCC. She lost to Garcia 8-2 and finished the tournament in fourth place.

Larson entered the 143-pound weight class with her first bout as a bye but continued to win her following two matches securing her place in the finals against Umpqua’s Zoey Smalley. Larson fought hard in her final match against Smalley but lost 10-0 finishing her season as runner-up.

The Badgers secured other victories at the national tournament, as Sophia Miller and Brinlee Gines each won two matches and Audrey Gribble, Kelsey Taylor, Neida Valle, and Samantha Memott won one match.

“Every place we’ve gone we have received compliments on how tough we are for a first-year team,” said Bastian. “People know who Snow College wrestling is.”

“Our methods are not outcome-based but method-based,” said Taylor. “Not outcome-oriented but systems-oriented and eventually, the outcome will take care of itself.”

The Badger women secured seventh place among 12 participating colleges at the NJCAA national tournament. Together the men’s and women’s teams are grateful for their season and look forward to another year of building their teams further.