MW WRESTLING: Gainey, Goodwin ready for nationalsWORTHINGTON — Minnesota West wrestlers Greg Gainey and Ben Goodwin find themselves on a national stage. Both Gainey (18-7) and Goodwin (7-8) have qualified for the NJCAA Men’s Wrestling National Championships, which run from Friday through Saturday at Jacobsen Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West wrestlers Greg Gainey and Ben Goodwin find themselves on a national stage.
Both Gainey (18-7) and Goodwin (7-8) have qualified for the NJCAA Men’s Wrestling National Championships, which run from Friday through Saturday at Jacobsen Exhibition Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Greg and Ben both had the talent that we thought they had. As a coaching staff, we just needed to figure out how to get their talent out of them,” Bluejays head coach Bob Purcell said. “By getting them to the NJCAA National Championships, I think we found a way to make them succeed.”
Purcell knows Gainey and Goodwin are both battle-tested.
“We wrestle in one of the most competitive districts in the nation,” Purcell said. “We compete against the (NJCAA) Division I teams from Iowa and the (NJCAA) Division III teams from Minnesota. Greg and Ben both reached the finals of the district tournament. I think they both can reach the finals at the national tournament.”
Gainey enters the national tour-nament ranked 12th in the nation at 165 pounds. His first-round oppo-nent is Tyler Cattey (8-10), of Northwest Kansas Technical Col-lege.
“I want to wrestle tough, hard and smart,” said Gainey, who is 11-1 this season in matches decided by a pin. “I can do that by staying in good position and wrestling at my own pace.”
Gainey, a redshirt sophomore originally from South Carolina, feels blessed to have reached the NJCAA National Championships.
“The Lord has allowed me to be here and that means everything to me,” Gainey said. “I wouldn’t be here without the Lord. This is a great opportunity and I want to seize the moment.”
Gainey comes into the national tournament on a six-match winning streak, including a 30-second pin of Itasca’s Matt Mason for the NJCAA North Central District Tournament title. Gainey also pinned 10th-ranked Dominic Sipe, of Rochester, in 1:51 to advance to the championship bout.
Goodwin, who has overcome two injuries this season en route to earn-ing his national tournament berth, is ranked 11th in the nation at 174 pounds. His first-round opponent is seventh-ranked Cole Schwartz (5-13), of Highline, Wash., Community College.
“I dislocated my shoulder in a match and, after it was popped back into place, I went to practice the next day, where I tore my AC joint in my shoulder after being slammed,” Goodwin said.
Despite being out of action for about two months, Goodwin, a freshman from Lincoln, Neb., has made the most of his 15 matches this season. He went 2-2 this season against eighth-ranked Trevor Mahlum, of Ridgewater College.
Goodwin’s final win over Mahlum was a 7-3 decision that put him into the title match at the NJCAA North Central District Tournament. Goodwin was the run-ner-up after being pinned by fourth-ranked Nick Lawrence, of Iowa Lakes, in 1:33.
“I’ve come back a lot stronger since the injuries and I am motivated to succeed,” Goodwin said.
The top eight placers in each of 10 weight classes become NJCAA All-Americans. Wrestlers must survive the first two days of competition to finish among the top eight.