It was a strong start to Niagara County Community College wrestling's weekend, as three Thunderwolves were named All-Americans in Friday's NJCAA National Championships in Council Bluffs, IA. Frankie Gissendanner, Jordan Bushey and Mason Gray all placed nationally in their respective brackets, with Gissendanner and Bushey advancing to Saturday's semifinal round.
Gissendanner, 149's No. 1 seed, had a stellar day with a pinfall over Henry Ford's Elijah Kidder, followed by a 5-3 decision over Northwest Kansas Tech's Elijah Tanner and a 12-3 major decision over the University at Rochester's Brandon Kidd Jr.
Bushey handled business in the 174-pound bracket, with a 6-0 decision over Colby's Austin Hacker, a pin against Northwest Kansas Tech's Jacobi Deal, closing the day out with a 15-1 major decision when he took on Northeastern's Breason Lewis.
Gray cemented his status as a 141-pound All-American with a 4-1 performance on day one, securing victories over Middlesex County's Corey Fernandez, Barton's Drew Burgoon, Neosho's Ethan Ewing and Labette's Cade Wathke, with three technical falls and a pin.
The Thunderwolves also currently rank No. 11 in team score in the event, as one of the top non-scholarship schools in the competition. NCCC still has a shot at winning a national championship amongst the non-scholarship programs heading into Saturday.
NCCC head coach Keith Maute said it was "so far so good," with Saturday determining whether the Thunderwolves can bring home national-championship recognition. With history on the line, Maute is hopeful for a successful "championship Saturday."
"We've never had two national champions in our program history in the same year," Maute said. "So that would be big if we could do that."
Gissendanner will begin the semis against Clackamas' Martin Margolis III, while Bushey will take on U of R's Jeremiah Colon. Gray will begin his quest to the podium against Western Wyoming's Kedric Coonis.
The NJCAA National Championships will conclude today, with the semifinals and consolation round beginning at 10:30 A.M. in Council Bluff's Mid-America Center
• Nine members of the Thunderwolves' men's and women's basketball teams were also named All-Region selections on Friday:
NJCAA Region III Division II All-Region teams
Player of the Year — Paige Emborsky
First team — Paige Emborsky, Cierra Harrison
Second team — Aubrey Halloran, Nickelle O'Neil, Alaina Forbes
Third team — Molly Mahony
First team — Nigel Scantlebury, William Kondrat
Second team — David Petit-Homme