T-Birds are 2018 academic champions

By Donnie Moore - Staff Reporter

The Highline's men's wrestling team are the 2018 NJCAA National Academic Champions and now have two All-Americans in Emmanuel Daigbe and Liam Corbett.

The team, with a cumulative grade point average of 3.34, based on its 10 starters and two extra wrestlers, won the 2018 NJCAA National Academic Championship, the fourth time the program has won this award in nine years.  

"I would like to thank the entire faculty for helping assist in this prestigious award without your hard work and caring about all students this would never have been possible," said Assistant Coach Bradley Luvaas. 

Daigbe, 197, had a great start to his tournament, beating his first three opponents, two of whom were ranked four and five in the tournament. 

Daigbe's first loss came from No. 1 Tyree Sutton from Iowa Central in the semi-finals. Sutton was a high school national champ two years ago. 

It was a very close loss, with Daigbe falling 8-6. Daigbe came back and finished fourth after falling to Baker Hadwan from Muskegon College.

"To be honest it feels great. I couldn't have done it without the great wrestling coaching staff Highline has and my wrestling partner," said Daigbe. The other All-American, Corbett at 157, had a great tournament as well, finishing in fifth place. Corbett beat his first two opponents but fell to Steven Lawrence from Ellsworth, a returning All-American. 

After that loss he beat two more opponents to be put in a match against No. 2 Isaiah Diggs from Clackamas, for a chance at third place. He was beaten in that match, which set him up for the fifth-place match against Thomas Stevenson from North Idaho, where he won.    

Another wrestler, Austin Lister had a chance to finish high in the tournament, but could not due to a shoulder injury suffered during a match.  

Lister, at 133, had a great start winning against his first competitor, Corey Robinson from Muskegon College. But he injured his shoulder during the match.   

Lister's next match against Munkhbat Bat-Erdene did not go his way and Bat-Erdene moved on to finish in second. Lister went on to wrestle Jordon Carsen from Harper College, where he won and advanced to wrestle Tramon Jenkins from Spartanburg, where he lost. 

Jacob Mendoza at 125 did not have a great tournament. Mendoza lost his first match to Nickolas Ornelas from Neosho and went on to fall to his next opponent as well.

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