Wrestlers dominate at NJCAA National Duals, despite being 10 points in the hole

Published by Jazmin Ode on

(Left to right, top to bottom) Tarleen Saroya, Zainab Ibrahim, Annabel Garcia, Matt Barrett, Destiny Ware, Tarnpreet Saroya, Taryn Evans, Anthony Weerheim, Faith Wooley, Zoey Smalley, Jennifer Delatorre, Nia Perez, Destinee Harris, Juliana Raabe, Avery Shinkle celebrate win at NJACC National Duals. The team would do two practices a day along with a study to stay on top of their game and grades.-Wresting Team Won-Photo provided by Anthony Weerheim

Editor’s Note: Part one of this story, “Women’s wrestling grabs the NJCAA National Duals by the ankles in Poteau, Oklahoma,” has more information about the duals and NJCAA.

A handful of UCC women’s wrestlers showed their grit by taking first place at the National Junior College Athletic Association who held their first national duals for women’s wrestling the weekend of Jan. 27 in Poteau, Oklahoma at Carl Albert State College.

The team competed with Trinidad State College from Colorado, Ellsworth Community College from Iowa, Snow College from Utah and Carl Albert State College, the host team.

Anthony Weerheim, director of wrestling, holds the first-place award that the women’s wresting team won at the NJCAA National Duals. Weerheim believes that the team’s biggest strength is that they have a gritty team. Gerardo Lopez / The Mainstream

The athletes, along with Anthony Weerheim, director of wrestling, and assistant coach Matt Barrett, left Jan. 23 and spent six days traveling and competing at this event.

Travel for sports is expected of athletes, but how do UCC’s athletes get study time in? “We were on the road for a long time. We were doing two a day (practices) for the first few days we were there,” Weerheim says. “We’d go practice in the morning then go back to the hotel and do study hall, then go practice in the afternoon.”

Weerheim explained that keeping everyone motivated was the most nerve-wracking part. “We decided to make a game changer in the middle of the week,” Weerheim said, “where we went in the afternoon and the girls thought they were going to work really hard, and we ended up playing kickball for an hour and a half. It was really good. I think that was a really good turning point in the middle of the week.”

Every match was critical in order to take first place. Barrett said that the RiverHawks had to forfeit two weight classes in every dual. “We don’t have 101 and 123 pounders for the duals, so we gave up 10 points to start every dual which is crucial when you got good teams like Snow and Carl Albert line-ups.”

“It was pretty exciting when we realized we beat Snow for the third match because they ended up taking second. That was pretty exciting, but we also got into a real nail biter with Carl Albert State College,” Weerheim said. “Our 191 pounder went out there and got their pin, Destinee Harris, and that secured the duals for us.”

Barrett said, “The best part, I thought, overall was two practices a day and the different opportunities to have team bonding.”

The women’s wrestling team will soon compete in the Wrestling Nationals. Weerheim explained that practicing “peaking at the right time” is the team’s biggest focus. Peaking is like a curb or a mountain. A wrestler, or any athlete, would want to try to reach the highest part of the mountain at just the right time. Throughout a season it is expected to have ups and downs mentally and physically, but finding a way to balance it all and be at the top the game is important.

“It’s very hard to do. Especially with how long a season wrestling is, and it’s a grind. It’s physically and mentally challenging. Just finding the way to get the right mindset and have everybody on the same page and feeling like we are wrestling our best is difficult,” Weerheim said. “You are probably not going to go into a match feeling 100%. It’s very rare to feel that way. So just taking care of your boo-boos and making sure we are mentally prepared to go in there and go compete at our best.”

Jazmin Ode(report) interview Zoey Smalley (AGS), Zainab Ibrahim (pre-dental), Taryn Evans (pre nursing), Avery Shinkle (health science), Tarleen Saroya (computer science), Tarnpreet Saroya (exercise science), Destiny Ware (pre med) and Nia Perez (health sciences) all share there most memorable moments at the National Duals. The athletes used the sign for ‘stay on business’ to stay focused, wrestling their best, and conquer at the duels. Gerardo Lopez / The Mainstream

Contact me at:

For more articles by Jazmin Ode, please click here.