Panther Wrestlers head to Nationals

York College sends 11 wrestlers to NAIA national competition

This weekend, 11 top athletes from York College will compete in the NAIA national wrestling competition, held March 1-3 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Currently the team is ranked #20 in the nation in an NAIA coaches’ poll.

Head Coach Ramon Diaz and Assistant Coach Greg Smith are very optimistic about the team’s performance. Diaz says he expects several of his wrestlers will finish as All-Americans.

The Team Breakdown

York College 2011-2012 Panther Wrestling Team
The York College 2011-2012 Panther Wrestling Team

Miles Negley is a junior from Wahoo, Neb., who wrestles at 125. Negley is ranked 11th in the nation and third in the region currently. Diaz says he is favorably seeded in the tournament and is expected to perform very well. His brother, sophomore Wes Negley, wrestles at 133. He has had a challenging season, but is rallying after being out of the game due to injury.

At 141 are freshman Josh Lopez and junior Bryan Magno, both from Bakersfield, Calif. Lopez placed sixth in the region at the qualifying meet February 18. Diaz says he expects both will score well in their national duals, commenting on Lopez’s explosive speed and Magno’s impressive scrambling.

Nicholas Clarke, a junior from Miami, Fla., wrestles at 149. “We call him The Beast,” says Diaz. “He is one of the strongest wrestlers in the nation. He can easily beat the best.” Diaz and Smith predict an upset when Clarke performs at nationals.

Also at 149 is Robert Eklund, a sophomore from Friend, Neb. In high school, Eklund was a Nebraska state champion wrestler. Diaz and Smith describe Eklund as technically sound and tough.

At 157 is Chrystian Banuelos, a freshman from La Verne, Calif. Banuelos is the team’s NAIA “Champion of Character” athlete and will participate in a special ceremony at the national competition. In addition to his proficiency in the ring, his coaches say that he is a selfless team player, willing to fill in at any weight and make sacrifices for the team with a great attitude.

Kyle Wichman wrestles at 165. The junior from Silver Lake, Kan., is a pinner and he works hard, says Smith. Both he and Diaz commented on his improvements over the season, due to his extreme dedication and work ethic.

Jake McCoy, a senior from Coos Bay, Ore., wrestles at 174. Last year he was one point away from being an All-American. His coaches predict that his raw talent will send him all the way this year. At regionals, he placed second in his weight class.

At 197 is Bradlee Carls, a junior from Bakersfield, Calif. Carls placed third at regionals and is well seeded for the national competition. He is 20-3 for the season and is well placed to be an All-American, says Diaz.

Rounding out the team in the heavy weight category is Raymond Johnson, a sophomore from Phillips, Neb. His coaches describe him as an exciting wrestler to watch because he “has the heart of a lion and he never gives up.”

The Panthers are excited for a big finish for their season.

See team photos

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