The Barton Community College wrestling team and its three All-American awards earned the program its highest national finish on Saturday as the Cougars finished 9th at the NJCAA Wrestling National Championships held in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Great Bend native Kade Sander delivered on his nation's top ranking to capture the 157 division title and the Cougars first ever individual championship, earning a hard fought 5-4 TB2 victory over No. 2 ranked Ethan Karsten of Iowa Central.
Two other Cougars left Iowa with school history under their belt, beginning with Gage Gomez earning the program's second highest ever finish. Seeded eighth and ranked 7th in the nation, the Altus, Oklahoma, freshman captured 3rd place in the 133 division with an 8-3 decision over No. 5 D'andre Brumfield of Iowa Western.
Barton's third All-American in the championships came from David Kelly, tying the program's first national achievement of Will Bardezbain's 5th placing in the 2016 championships. Ranked 3rd and seeded fourth, Kelly met the same fate of Gomez in the championship semifinals by being bounced to the consolation by the eventual national champion. Kelly would lose his next match to the No. 4 ranked Devin Crawl of team champion Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, but would regroup in the fifth place match pulling out a 9-7 decision over sixth seeded Michael Abidin of Nassau.
Top-10 Team Standings:
1. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 147.5 points
2. Clackamas (OR) 124.5
3. Iowa Central 121.0
4. Western Wyoming 99.5
5. Iowa Western 86.5
6. North Idaho 80.5
7. Ellsworth 76.5
8. Northwest Wyoming 73
9. Barton 70.5
10. Northwest Kansas Tech 61
Complete weight division brackets