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WRESTLING: Three Warriors will be in national wrestling spotlight this weekend
Central District champ Oshea Smith-Traylor (LEFT) will wrestle at 165 pounds and district runner-up Derek Dowdy will wrestle at 141 pounds. LARGER IMAGE
Josh Boots will wrestle at 184 pounds. LARGER IMAGE
INA, Ill. – Three Rend Lake College wrestlers will compete at the 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association Championships, Friday and Saturday, at the UCR Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minn.
Freshman Oshea Smith-Traylor, of Belleville, won the 165 pound NJCAA Central District Championship on Feb. 12 at Triton College. From there, the top four individuals in each weight class advanced to nationals. Joining Smith-Traylor at nationals are freshmen Derek Dowdy and Josh Boots, both of Evansville, Ind.
Dowdy was runner-up in the district 141-pound class and Boots, who took fifth at 184, gets a spot on the national stage due to an injury suffered by one of the four district finalists.
RLC Head Coach Kevin Tate said all three had great performances at the district finals and have shown up to wrestle all year long.
“Athletics is one of the true areas in life where you have real fairness,” Tate said. “You get exactly what you deserve from what you put into it. These guys have put in a lot this season. They are great kids with a will to wrestle. Dowdy wrestled, pretty much, the entire season with a broken left thumb. You just can’t get the kid off the mat.”
In what Tate said is the worst season RLC has had regarding injuries – six starters gone - Smith-Traylor has been a silver lining. The 18-year-old product of Belleville East High has not only stayed healthy, but has placed in nearly every tournament. He was runner-up at the Patriot Open in November, fourth at the Kaufman-Brand Open in December, and third at the Mustang Open and Art Kraft Memorial.
“I think they all have a great shot at being All-Americans,” Tate said, adding that he doesn’t want to put any undue pressure on Smith-Traylor, but he thinks he could win the whole thing this weekend.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Smith-Traylor said of reaching nationals. What makes it even more special is that he has never wrestled this heavy before. In fact, he was wrestling 149 before Christmas break.
“My goal was to make it out of regionals and go to nationals, whatever the weight,” he said. “But at 165, all the other kids are going to be stronger than me. Speed is my strongest ability, so I use that and work it to my advantage.”
Tate said the luck of the draw plays a big part in how far these wrestlers will make it at the national championships. If a wrestler gets a particular style he likes to go up against, he has a good chance of advancing beyond that match. Another factor is health. Tate, who has coached two national champions and 10 All-Americans, said staying injury free is another huge part of the national championship experience.
According to the NJCAA, the 10 championship matches on Saturday will broadcast live online through NJCAA TV at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com, thanks to the efforts of tournament host Rochester Amateur Sports Commission and iHigh.com – the online broadcasting partner of the NJCAA.
Additional information on the 2012 NJCAA Wrestling Championships can be found here and official brackets for each weight class can be found on trackwrestling.com.
RLC ranks 20th on the final team and individual weight class rankings heading into Rochester. Dowdy is ranked seventh and Smith-Traylor is eighth in their respective weight classes.
For all things athletic at The Lake, visit RLC online at www.rlc.edu/warriors.