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NIC struggles on first day of wrestling nationals

A year ago, North Idaho College’s Jeremy Golding was a semifinalist during the NJCAA national wrestling championships and fifth-place All-American.

Expectations were high for the Mead graduate who had been ranked No. 1 this year. The week before this weekend’s tournament, though, Golding dislocated his left elbow, and while attempting to compete in Friday’s first session at the Spokane Convention Center, it wasn’t in the cards.

“It took the wind out of our sails,” Cardinals coach Pat Whitcomb said. “He went from No. 1 to not being able to wrestle.”

He tried to go in two matches, but, he said, “I tried to wrestle the first match and it just didn’t feel right. The second match the same thing happened. I think I would have been an All-American again and could have won it this year. But everything happens for a reason.”

It was generally a tough day for NIC. Although five reached the quarterfinals and a couple more advanced in consolation rounds, the Cardinals waited until late to put regional champions V.J. Giulio and Taylor Kornoely, into today’s semifinals.

The explosive Giulio took just 1 minute, 23 seconds to pin his foe at 197 pounds. The undersized Kornoely got his 285-pound weight class pin with just two-tenths of a second left.

Kornoely, who weighs 215 pounds while wrestling behemoths, found himself staring into the maw of a 5-0 deficit practically as his match against Alex Yeager began.

In the second period he began to wear down his bulkier foe, cutting the disadvantage to 5-3 with near fall and passivity points. In the third period it was all Kornoely, who built an 11-6 lead before the end came.

“I knew the kid was big and strong,” he said, adding it is hard to get out from under someone who outweighs him 40 or 50 pounds. “I chose top after that. I knew I could get a cradle on big guys. Most of them try to muscle me and don’t have a lot of gas in the tank. They get tired and that’s when I dominate in the third period.”

Giulio wrestles like someone much smaller, like he was when he began high school: explosive quickness that makes his left-handed high crotch takedown tough to handle, as Iowa Central’s Bryce Fisher discovered.

“This was a tough round for me last year,” Giulio said. “Last year was painful. I came in undefeated and ranked No. 1 and lost in the quarterfinal.”

He is, he said, wrestling with a purpose this year.

NIC is sixth following the first day, well behind Northeast Oklahoma, which has a stranglehold on the tournament with 111 points and five semifinalists. Runner-up Clackamas has 88 and four.