SPOKANE, Wash. – After a day of team registration, team workouts and meetings, the Harper College wrestling begins competition Friday morning at the 2014 NJCAA Nationals hosted by North Idaho College at the Spokane Convention Center in Spokane, Wash.
The Hawks send all 10 of their wrestlers to the mat for nationals via qualification from the Central District Championship 12 days ago, the only team in the region to do so. The Hawks took 10th at last year's national meet in Des Moines, Iowa behind a national championship fromJosh Tardy (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) at 149 pounds.
Here is a look at the 10 Harper wrestlers competing this weekend and how they got here:
Jacob Bellis (/Bloomington)-125 pounds
Bellis holds a 26-5 record on the year and has not lost since Dec. 7, 2013 at the Wisconsin Open. Bellis went 2-0 at the Midwest District, winning the title match 7-5 over Muskegon's Devane Dodgens.
Kerin Ramirez ()-133 pounds
Ramirez went 2-1 at the district meet, including 22-12 and 6-3 wins over his opponents. He lost in the title match but still qualified for nationals automatically.
Blake Tisza (/Thornton Fractional South)-141 pounds
Tisza also won his weight class at the Midwest District, going 2-0. He edged Muskegon's Cody Stenberg in an epic final, 7-6. He has not lost since Jan. 18.
Blake Santi (Roselle, Ill./Lake Park)-149 pounds
The sophomore leader, who was also a Harper College Athlete of the Week, dominated the competition at the district meet en route to an individual title.
"I want to be a national champion this year," Santi said in his athlete of the week interview. "I feel like a role model to help push the other guys."
Greg Jacquez (/West Aurora)-157 pounds
Jacquez came out strong in the district meet with an 8-5 victory to reach the final, where he fell to Lincoln's Luke Dunn. Jacquez's second place finish automatically qualified him for nationals.
Michael Lurz (Barrington, Ill./Barrington)-165 pounds
Lurz finished outside the top-three at the district meet with a fourth place finish, but he received a wild card bid to be the Hawks' final qualifier for nationals.
Tyler Thomas (Crystal Lake, Ill.)-174 pounds
Thomas advanced to nationals via a third place finish at the district championship. He has four consecutive third-place finishes coming into the national meet.
Mike Romanelli (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Crystal Lake South)-184 pounds
Romanelli qualified for nationals with a third place finish at the district championship. He started the year wrestling at 197 pounds.
Kyle Bridgeman (/AFC)-197 pounds
Bridgeman took third place at the Midwest District to make it to nationals.
Lavontay Cobb (/King College Prep)-285 pounds
Cobb grabbed third place in the heavyweight division for a spot in the national championship.