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Gonzalez wins regional title to earn berth to NCAA Div. 2 nationals

Former Ellis Tech star JoJo Gonzalez of AIC, center, has qualified for the NCAA Div. II national championships for the second year in a row. (RJB Sports photo courtesy American International College)

ERIE, Pennsylvania, February 29, 2020 – American International College junior JoJo Gonzalez has qualified to participate in the NCAA Division II wrestling national championship tournament for the second consecutive year.

Gonzalez, a former State Open champion at Ellis Tech in Danielson, won a Super Regional 1 championship at 157 pounds on Saturday at Mercyhurst, helping the Yellowjackets finish eighth in the field of 11 teams. He is the first AIC wrestler to win a regional title in 19 years — 2001.

The NCAA Division II national championship tournament is March 13-14 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Gonzalez (33-6) looked sharp in winning the Super Region I tournament. He beat Shippensburg’s Patrick Duggan in his first match, 8-1 and dominated Mercyhurst’s Mike Clark in the semifinals by technical fall, 17-2, in 6:11. Gonzalez had five takedowns and two near falls in the victory.

His most impressive match came in the finals when Gonzalez executed a smooth reversal that transitioned into a pin of Gannon’s Evan Fisher in 3:14 to secure first place and an NCAA tournament berth. It was his 15th pin of the year.

Last March, Gonzalez went 0-2 at the NCAA Div. II nationals and finished 30-7 on the season. He had won three straight consolation round matches to earn a spot to finish third in the Super Region I and earn a spot at the nationals.

Former Montville High wrestler Joel Morth went 2-2 at 149 pounds for AIC and finished fourth at the Super Regional, one spot shy of earning a NCAA tournament berth.

Morth defeated DeAndre Reed (Shippensburg) in the opening round by an intense 5-2 decision. Morth dropped his second match to the two-time national champion Chris Eddings, Jr., from Pitt-Johnstown.

In the consolation bracket, Morth pinned his next opponent in just 38 seconds. His pin came from an excellent reversal to start the bout. In the third-place bout, Morth faced Reed, the opponent he defeated in the opening round. Reed was able to avenge his first-round loss with a 3-1 victory, getting a takedown with 15 seconds remaining in the match.

There are six regional tournaments that serve as qualifying tournaments for the NCAA Division II tournament.

 

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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