Iowa Central prepares for national championships

COUNCIL BLUFFS — Luke Moffitt would like nothing more than to be entering the NJCAA National Championships with a wrestler qualified in each weight class.

But that's not the case for Iowa Central this year.
Instead, eight Tritons will be competing against the best of the best beginning here Friday inside the Mid-America Center.

For Moffitt, the task ahead of his team reminds him of 1999 when Colby went in with just a handful of qualifiers and left as national champions.

"Colby went to nationals with six guys and put five in the finals (two champions) and won it all," Moffitt said. "I am always bringing that up to them. We've never had eight guys since I've been here, but (winning a team title) can happen if everybody wrestles to their potential."

Daniel Vargas at 125 pounds and heavyweight Boone McDermott each claimed district championships for the Tritons last month.
Maddie Roney, Nolan Miller-Johnson, Andrew Gamble, Ashton Eyler, Ja'Quez Bostic and Bret Minor also advanced to nationals.

"They each just have to worry about themselves," Moffitt said. "Competing at their best and give themselves the best chance to win by doing the right things. That includes preparing them as well as we can, going out and executing, cutting weight right, warming up right; all the things that go into performing at the best of your abilities.

"Everybody can do that and I have good confidence we will be up in the team standings."

Iowa Central has crowned at least one national champion every year since 2014, which also marked the last time they did not finish in the Top-3 as a team. Since, the Tritons have won two team titles, finished second once and third twice, including the last two seasons.

Since 1960, Iowa Central has finished in the Top-10 at nationals 35 times, second only to North Idaho's 42. They are also just two individual champions behind North Idaho for the most, having crowned 51 champs including Ethan Karsten and Tyree Sutton last year.

"We haven't been out of the Top-3 since 2014 so expectations are high for us once again," Moffitt said. "We don't want to experience placing outside of the Top-3. Nobody on this team or in this program wants that."

The Tritons haven't wrestled since the middle of February when they finished fourth at regionals behind Iowa Western, Ellsworth and North Iowa Area. All four are ranked in the Top-8 with the Trojans fourth, Reivers fifth and Iowa Central sixth.

Clackamas, the defending national champions, are ranked first followed by Western Wyoming and North Idaho.

With the league holding weight in the polls and a schedule that included the Iowa State Open, the national dual meet and a trip to Wyoming, Moffitt knows his wrestlers have already faced elite competition.

"The league hasn't gotten any easier for us over the years," he said. "Everybody in the conference pushes each other. I feel very good going up against a team from eastern U.S. that wrestles JUCO and putting our kid against them because our guys are used to this kind of wrestling.

"And our room has really been challenging this year too. It's been a strange season, but the guys that are here, that is a testament to how hard they have worked and earned their way."