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Northland Pioneers Wrestling Earns Top 25 Finish at NJCAA Championship

Northland Community & Technical College sophomore Craig Williams attained All-American status with a seventh place finish at 197 pounds at the NJCAA Wrestling Championships held in Des Moines, Iowa, Feb. 27-28. Williams is the second Northland wrestler to earn All-American status in the program's two year history.

"Craig had an outstanding tournament," said Northland head coach Scott DCamp. "He peaked at the right time and beat a couple of higher-ranked opponents, which is what you have to do to reach the medal stand at nationals."

Williams posted a 4-2 record, with all four wins coming by fall, on his way to a seventh place finish. His bonus points, and placement points from a seventh place finish, led a trio of Northland competitors to a 24th place finish overall and seventh place finish among non-scholarship teams. The Pioneers were 27th at last year's NJCAA meet.

Williams, a 2014 national qualifier and round of 16 finisher at 184 pounds, moved up a weight to 197 and qualified for the NJCAA meet with a fifth place finish at the North Central District Tournament Feb. 15.

He opened the national tournament with a pair of falls, pinning Domenic Liquori of Springfield Tech Community College and 11th ranked Aspen Naylor of Western Wyoming Community College.

He lost to eventual third place finisher Dillon Archer in the quarterfinals, but clinched All-American status with a win by fall against sixth-ranked Sherod Wilson of Ellsworth Community College in the round of 12. Williams was 0-2 against Wilson in two previous matches.

"Craig lost by 12-6 decision against Wilson in our dual meet with Ellsworth in January and 11-5 in the district tournament," DCamp said. "The first two matches were closer than the scores indicated and Craig knew he could beat Wilson if things went our way."

Williams lost by fall to eventual fourth place finisher Jonathan Dennis of North Idaho in the Saturday morning consolation quarterfinals and he capped his tournament by pinning Luke Nohns of Iowa Western for his fourth pin of the tournament.

Also competing for the Pioneers were Austin Hjelle and Sam Twistol.

Northland 149-pounder Sam Twistol fell to the consolation side of the bracket with a 12-5 loss to eventual seventh place finisher Quinn Johnston of Southwestern Oregon. Following a bye, Twistol upset 11th ranked Tyler Both of North Idaho 5-3, but was eliminated from the tournament with a 13-2 loss to eventual fourth place finisher Shea Conley of Labette Community College.

Hjelle went 0-2 at 141, with an opening-round 9-0 loss to Michael Malles of Triton College and an 11-4 second round loss to Kerin Rameriz of Harper College.