T-Birds set sights on nationals

By Donnie Moore - Staff Reporter

Four Highline wrestlers qualified for Nationals last Sunday as the team placed third in the West Region Championships.

Austin Lister led Highline in the tournament taking first place at 133, followed by Jacob Mendoza, 125, Emmanuel Daigbe, 197, and Liam Corbett, 157, who all took second in their respective weight classes.

"What allowed me to have a good day at regionals is just being healthy," Lister said. "Eating the right stuff, resting when I need to rest and having my mindset of just wanting to go out there and battle and never giving up." 

Lister started with a win over Nicholas Hara of North Idaho College with a fall at the 0:57 mark. He then bested Christian Balagso of Southwestern Oregon with a 10-4 decision to take first place.The next wrestler who qualified for Nationals was Mendoza at 125 with a win over a injured DeVaughn Sapien of Clackamas Community College. In the title match, Mendoza lost to Esco Walker Jr. of North Idaho on an 8-3 decision.

Daigbe, at 197, secured a position at Nationals with a win over Christian Grover of North Idaho with a fall at the 3:54 mark. But in his final match he fell to Gage Harrah of Clackamas at the 1:34 mark.

The last wrestler who was able to qualify was Corbett, at 157, with a win over Thomas Stevenson of North Idaho with a decision of 4-2. He later lost to Isaiah Diggs of Clackamas with a decision of  8-0.Other wrestlers who did well, but did not qualify for Nationals were Tucker Wooding at 141, Adrian Avena at 149, and Ben Gore at 174, who all took third.

The four wrestlers who qualified for the NJCAA Wrestling Championship have a little over a week to prepare. "At Nationals I'm expecting to battle hard and win the whole thing," Lister said. "Right now I am seeded second in the national tournament, but I don't plan on taking second, I plan on taking first and beating out my competition for a national title. I've worked too hard this season to come up short of my goal." The NJCAA Wrestling Championship will take place Feb. 23-24, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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