By Scott DCamp
Northland Community & Technical College will host the 2017 NJCAA North District national qualifier at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12.
The tournament doubles as the MCAC State Tournament and NJCAA Region XIII Tournament. Participating schools include Itasca Community College, Minnesota West Community & Technical College, Ridgewater College, Rochester Community & Technical College and host Northland.
Rochester is the four-time defending Minnesota College Athletic Conference champions. The Yellowjackets won conference’s dual meet championship each year from 2013-15.
The Yellowjackets were also recognized as MCAC/Region XIII champions after being the highest placing Minnesota college in the North Central District Tournament in 2013 and 2014; and they won stand-alone MCAC tournaments in 2015 and 2016.
While the Yellowjackets have dominated the conference in recent years, the Ridgewater Warriors were the conference standard for much of the past half century. Overall, the Ridgewater program has claimed 31 MCCC/MCAC state titles, 12 Region XIII titles and accumulated 18 top 10 NJCAA finishes.
Itasca also has strong tradition with three MCCC/MCAC state titles, four Region XIII championships and a non-scholarship national championship in 1995.
Minnesota West has sponsored a wrestling program since the 1960-61 season and during that span, the Blue Jays have won two MCAC dual titles.
Northland, the conference’s newest team after adding a program in 2013, has wrestled to a pair of MCAC dual meet runner-up finishes but has failed to finish higher than third in the individual tournament in its first three years.
At stake Sunday are qualifying spots in the 2017 NJCAA Wrestling Championships, which will be held Feb. 24-25 at the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Each of the eight qualifying districts is allowed to qualify 70 percent of its tournament entrants. That means if all five were able to fill all 10 weight classes, there would be 35 qualifying spots up for grabs among the 50 participants.