February 25, 2020
Clark takes 285 title; 5 Lakers headed to nationals
Dyson and Mundey 3rd, Beaulieu and Tueguo 4th in respective classes
Garrett College sophomore Tanner Clark, far right, won the 285-pound crown at Saturday's NJCAA Eastern District II championship tournament. He pinned Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester's John Fountain, far left, in the semifinals and Camden County College's Caleb Corrigan, center, in the finals. Clark became GC's second district champion in as many years and joined teammates Austin Dyson and Davy Mundey as the only two-time national qualifiers in program history.
Bigger isn't always better. Garrett College wrestler Tanner Clark proved that point while cruising to the 285-pound title at Saturday's NJCAA Eastern District II championship tournament.
Clark – weighing in at just 214 pounds – pinned a pair of much more physically imposing opponents to claim his crown. In the process, he became the Lakers' second district champion and joined teammates Austin Dyson and Davy Mundey – who finished third at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively – as the only two-time national qualifiers for GC's second-year wrestling program.
"Tanner came out wrestling to win instead of just wrestling to maintain a lead," GC head coach John Chambers said after Tanner pinned John Fountain (Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester) in the semifinals and Caleb Corrigan (Camden County College) in the title match. "It's all coming together for him, both physically and mentally, on the mat."
Clark said he has to take advantage of his strengths in order to make up for the weight he gives away on an almost nightly basis.
"I have to use my speed and my conditioning to make up for the weight I'm giving up," said Clark. "Some of those bigger guys can't keep up with me – but I have to stay on my toes. They can pull a big move or just throw you. I have to be ready for anything."
Clark characterized his experiences in helping build a wrestling program at GC as "pretty amazing".
"I've had great teammates and great coaching on both teams," said Clark. "Coach Chambers has done so much with the program. [Assistant] Coach [Tanner] Cahill is so knowledgeable about wrestling and has taught me a lot."
Clark said earning a return trip to nationals "feels really good".
"It's one of those goals you set at the beginning of the season," said Clark, who wrestled for West Virginia power Berkeley Springs High. "Just to make it there is a sweet moment. I couldn't ask for anything better than the opportunity we've been given to be part of the first junior college in Maryland to have a wrestling team."
The top-seeded Clark pinned Fountain at 1:31 of the first period of the semifinal and pinned Corrigan at 4:27 of the second period in the title match.
Clark joins Jordan Day, who won last year's 157-pound district title, as the only Laker to claim district championships. Clark finished fourth at 197 pounds last year to earn a trip to nationals, where he made an impressive run to the Round of 16.
Four other Lakers –Dyson, Mundey, Garrett Beaulieu (4th, 184), and Loic Tueguo (4th, 197) – joined Clark in qualifying for the NJCAA Division II championship tournament, which will take place in Council Bluffs, Iowa on March 6-7.
Rowan College of South Jersey-Gloucester – edged out for last season's team title by Lackawanna College – qualified 10 wrestlers for nationals while rolling to this year's team championship. Gloucester finished with 139.5 points, 30 ahead of second-place Spartanburg Methodist College. Middlesex County College outpointed host Lackawanna, 73-67, to take third place while Garrett College placed fifth in the nine-team tournament with 55 points.
"It was a good weekend," said Chambers. "We wrestled well."
Dyson – who dropped a 14-3 quarterfinal decision to Shylik Scriven of Spartanburg Methodist – decisioned A.J. Hunter of Lackawanna in the third-place match, 5-1.
"The key to Austin's win against Hunter was just being patient and wrestling a smarter match," said Chambers. "He slowed himself down and put together one of the best matches he's wrestled all year."
The second-seeded Mundey – expected to be a major championship contender – was upset by seventh-seeded Jacob Knight of Bergen County College, 12-10, in the quarterfinals before rallying in the consolation bracket.
"It was a shocker to the entire building," Chambers said of Mundey's loss.
Mundey dominated Alberto Vargas-Perez of Spartanburg Methodist, 8-1, and held off Michael Schneider of Camden County College, 8-5, before routing Knight, 8-2, in the third-place match to avenge his quarterfinal loss.
"It just showed Davy's courage," Chambers said of Mundey's three straight victories. "He didn't dwell on the loss."
Beaulieu was pinned by Jaden Roberts of RCSJ-Gloucester, but then defeated Chris Esposito of Camden County College, 9-4, before being pinned by Dymtro Lakusta of Spartanburg Methodist in 1:01 pin in the third-place match.
Tueguo decisioned Adam DeHart of Spartanburg Methodist, 6-4, before being pinned by Curtis Thomas of RCSJ-Gloucester at 2:54 of the first period. Tueguo pinned Zack Bohn of Camden County College at 2:59 of the first period before being pinned by DeHart.
"That bracket was absolutely loaded top to bottom," Chambers said of the 197-pound draw. "They [Tueguo and DeHart] wrestled three times in the last two weeks – that's asking a lot to beat the same guy three straight times."
While Mundey and Tueguo took upset losses during the course of the tournament, Chambers said he was pleased with how each of his wrestlers performed.
"We didn't wrestle to our full potential, but we battled through our struggles," said Chambers.