Two West Ottawa wrestlers set off this week to wrestle at the 2018 Marines Junior & Cadet Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota from July 14-20. Every year, the nation's best young wrestlers come together for the world's largest wrestling competition, at the Fargodome on the campus of North Dakota State. This competition produces great stories of champions, many who go on to glory in college wrestling, and ultimately at the World and Olympic levels. West Ottawa has produced several All-Americans over the years.
"To me as a head coach, this is the highest honor that you can bestow on one of my wrestlers," stated head coach Ryan Lancaster."If you can constantly produce athletes that can compete on the national stage, the in-season titles will eventually come."
Sophomore Mathew "Mad Dawg" Hakken makes his first appearance on the national stage, competing in both freestyle and greco-roman at the cadet level. "Mathew is one of the most dedicated kids I have had the pleasure of coaching," Lancaster said. "He rises to any challenge in front of him. He generally has to bump up and wrestle kids that have 20 to 30 pounds on him, so I look forward to seeing him compete against the best his size." Mathew will compete at the 100lbs weight class.
Junior Gabby Ramirez from Zeeland West High School also makes her national level debut. "Gabby is remarkable as a wrestler, said Lancaster. "I first met her last summer at my private club (Myrmidon) and she has excelled rapidly. For her to compete with the best in the country with less than a year under her belt is truly unparalleled. She is also a trailblazer, as girl and the first Zeland wrestler to qualify for the national championships." Gabby will compete in both the cadet and junior divisions at the 152lbs weight class.
Senior Julian Jimenez already competed last month at the Junior Dual National Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma . "Julian sets the tone for all my athletes," said Lancaster. "He seeks out the best competition and refuses the shy away from the best, because he wants to be the best. Julian was a freshman when I took over the program in 2015, and it has been an honor to see him grow as a wrestler on his quest to be the best." Julian competed in the Junior division in both freestyle and greco-roman at the 160lbs weight class.
All of the matches on all of the mats from the 2018 U.S. Marine Corps Junior & Cadet Nationals will be broadcast live on FloWrestling.
For updated articles, features and results from Fargo, visit TheMat.com.