Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) produced two individual wrestling national champions at the NJCAA National Tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa earlier this month. Ten NEO wrestlers under Coach Joe Renfro and Assistant Coach Dennis Siegmann placed third as a team and nine of the ten wrestlers placed in the top eight, with five placing in the top five in their class. Shawn DeShazer, a red shirt freshman physical education major from Wichita, Kan., was NEO’s first national champion at the event, winning the 133-pound class 10-6 over Iowa Central’s Zak Hensley. While DeShazer was confident in his ability entering the tournament, he had to focus on being mentally prepared. “We’d seen a lot of these opponents, but I’d injured myself right before regionals, so that was the biggest thing psychologically for me,” said DeShazer. While winning the individual national championship was an important step in his collegiate wrestling career, DeShazer noted that he would have rather had a team victory. “Personally, I’ve never been that guy to put my achievements on display. If someone comes and talks to the team and asks ‘how did you all do,’ I’m not one to step out and talk about my title. It’s hard to have fun with it, because we all wanted to win as a team.”
However, DeShazer has confidence in the NEO team and considering his red-shirt status, he is still contemplating his future education and athletic career. “Winning a national championship at a collegiate level is exciting, but I’m not done. I don’t know where I plan to go yet, it kind of depends on what my teammates decide to do. We wanted to win that team championship and if some of these guys stick around, I think I might stay to try and win that championship as a team.”
DeShazer was joined by Wyatt Jordan, a freshman agri-business major from Collinsville, Okla. Jordan defeated Clackamas’s Dillon Ulrey 6-2 in the 165 pound class to earn his national title. Unlike DeShazer, Jordan wasn’t battling any injuries coming into the tournament and felt confident. Much of that confidence came for the leadership of Coach Renfro. “This tournament was the best I felt all year because we had a little break before-hand to get healthy,” said Jordan. “Renfro gives you a mental edge. I doubted myself in high school when I went up against kids who had won a state title or had more ‘fame,’ but coach makes sure you have it in your head that you’re the baddest dude out there. He really changed my perspective and how I could defend myself on the mat.”
Jordan agreed with DeShazer that a team victory would have made their individual titles even sweeter. “It’s always Iowa, Clackamas, and NEO, so we’ve seen them before. They were good teams just like we were and it’s a blind draw. They had some things fall in their favor that we didn’t, but that’s the kind of small thing you have to learn to deal with. Everybody did what they could have done, but there were some little things that made us come up short.” Jordan plans to return to NEO next season to continue his wrestling and academic career and has plans to attend a four-year institution in the future.
On the team this year, Coach Renfro added nine All-Americans to his career total. Eight other NEO wrestlers competed alongside the two individual champions: 125 lb. sophomore Logan Terrill from Arkansas City, Kan., 141 lb. sophomore Curtis Burnett from Independence, Kan., 149 lb. red shirt freshman Dylan Lucas from Ardmore, Okla., 157 lb. sophomore Alex Nelson from Guthrie, Okla., 174 lb. sophomore Saul Ortiz from Wichita Heights, Kan., 184 lb. freshman Devin Crawl from Cahttanooga, Tenn., 197 lb. freshman Ruston Duke from Ardmore, Okla., and 285 lb. red shirt sophomore Shawn Beeson from Monett, Mo. For more information on NEO Wrestling, contact Lisa Severe at LSevere@neo.edu. (Photo from left: Shawn DeShazer and Wyatt Jordan)