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Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) hosted a banquet for the Wrestling Team after their national championship season. On April 19, NEO hosted wrestlers, coaches, and families to unveil the national championship ring and highlight the season’s accomplishments. Two-time gold medal Olympian John Smith offered the keynote address. Smith, now the head wrestling coach at OSU, shared that being a wrestler is more than just being an athlete. “Wrestling isn’t about being on the mat,” said Smith. “In my international career, I only actually wrestled a few hours total. Wrestling is about character. I look out on this room and I see young men of character who are willing to do the work and put in the effort required to make something of this opportunity. I am proud of NEO, Dr. Hale, Coach Renfro, Coach Siegmann, and all the other wrestling staff for helping you become men of character.”WB-46 small

(From left: Steve Bashore, general manager of Buffalo Run Casino; Assistant Coach Dennis Siegmann; Coach John Smith, Olympian and OSU head coach; Coach Joe Renfro; Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO president)

NEO President Dr. Jeff Hale challenged the national champions to make something of their opportunity. “Your hard work and effort earned the team a national championship,” said Hale. “That is a lottery ticket for opportunity. Don’t waste that ticket, use it to help you become the best at whatever you do. Whether you cure cancer, run a company, or strive to be the best father or husband, your success this year has brought that one step closer.”

Among the season’s accomplishments, NEO wrestlers were the 2016 NJCAA National Champions and West Central District Champions, the NWCA/NJCAA National Duals third place team, and finished with a 12-2 dual meet record. Among the top individual accomplishments Dawaylon Barnes, Blake Andrews, and Jacobe Smith won national championships. Smith is the back-to-back national champion and was also named the NJCAA Outstanding Wrestler. The team also had nine All-Americans and six academic All-Americans. The NEO wrestling program has now won national team championships in two of the last three years. For more information on the NEO wrestling program, contact Lisa Severe at lsevere@neo.edu. For a full album on the night, visit Facebook.com/gogoneo.

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