Council Bluffs, IA – The Spartanburg Methodist College wrestling team competed in the NJCAA National Wrestling Championships this past weekend at the Mid-America Center hosted by Iowa Western Community College. The Pioneers qualified six wrestlers for the National Championships, Sophomore 125lber Tramon Jenkins, Freshman 141lber Loye Burkhead, RS Freshman 157lber Victor Tello, Sophomore 165lber JD Harrelson, Sophomore 174lber Caleb Spears, and RS Freshman Cooper Kaminsky. Coming into the tournament three Pioneers were seeded within the bracket, Jenkins, Burkhead, and Spears and the others got randomly drawn into their bracket. In the end, two pioneers returned home with All-America Honors, Tramon Jenkins and Caleb Spears.
125lber Tramon Jenkins was the number one seed coming into the tournament. Tramon received a bye through the first round. In round two, Tramon was upset against the 4th ranked wrestler and from North Eastern Oklahoma A&M, Mason Naifeh. Tramon then fought his way on the consolation side of the bracket winning three matches in a row, beating his opponent first by fall, then via 14-4 major decision and then finally a 6-1 victory to earn All-American status. After the first day of wrestling, Tramon was forced to medically withdraw from the tournament due to health concerns. Tramon had earned All-America Status finishing in 8th place overall. Tramon is now a 2x All-American for the Pioneers placing 8th last year at 133lbs and 8th this year at 125lbs.
174lber Caleb Spears had an excellent tournament, showing off all of his hard work that he has put in throughout the year. Caleb wrestled seven matches total over the whole weekend to earn himself a 5th place medal. Caleb made it all the way to the championship quarterfinals match, where he faced the number 3rd ranked guys in the country and eventual 4th place finisher from Barton, Gage McBride. Caleb would drop that match, having to wrestle his was on the backside of the bracket against two familiar foes, Tyler Bear of Rowan, and Dominic Mancina of Henry Ford who Caleb had previously beaten earlier in the season. Caleb would go on to finish 5th in his bracket earning himself NJCAA All-America Honorable Mention.
Also scoring points for the Pioneers was 197lbs Redshirt Freshman Cooper Kaminsky. Cooper finished 1-2 on the weekend pinning his opponent in the second round. SMC, as a team finished in 21st overall place with two All-Americans on the year. This is the 4th consecutive season that SMC has finished in the top 25 overall and marks only the second time SMC has ever had a 2x All-American and the second time SMC has ever had two All-Americans in same year.