Mike Mendoza takes over as head coach at Northeastern Junior College09 Oct 2017
By Marc Romero & Tom Blair, ICW Staff
Former Boise State head wrestling coach Mike Mendoza takes the helm at Northeastern Junior College for the 2017-2018 season. Mendoza took over the Boise State program in 2016, but became available when the Broncos dropped their wrestling program to pursue the addition of baseball.
Before landing at Boise State, Mendoza was head wrestling coach at his alma matter, Cal State University-Bakersfield, for six seasons, during which the Roadrunners cracked the USA Today/NWCA Division 1 coaches poll top 25 for the first time in 15 years. While Mendoza was at CSU Bakersfield the Roadrunners produced 17 NCAA qualifiers, and 4 individual PAC-12 champions. Mendoza also worked as a graduate assistant at Adams State in Alamosa for 2 seasons before becoming head assistant coach for CSU Bakersfield in 2002.
Northeastern Junior College returned to the wrestling mat last season after a 37-year hiatus. The Plainsmen qualified three to the NJCAA Championships, finishing in 23rd place as a team with 14.5 points. Anthony Curtis finished in 5th place at 157lbs. Morgan Fogg at 125lbs and Justin Anderson at 165lbs both qualified for the NJCAA championship tournament.
Mendoza is coming in with a clean slate and plans to be there for the long haul, as his wife is from Colorado. He wants to make sure the wrestlers, parents, fans and wrestling community know that he is putting a plan in place to stabilize wrestling at Northeastern. Only being in the area for seven weeks Mendoza is still getting to know the area and the high school coaches from the local schools. Mendoza has hired Adam Fierro as the assistant wrestling coach, Fierro wrestled for Mendoza at Cal State – Bakersfield and was a two-time NCAA qualifier and ranked in the top 20.
His goals are to set NJC back on track to where it used to be a national contender in the past. With seven returning student athletes on the roster he has a good foundation. Whereas junior college is different from 4-year colleges in that the wrestling team turn over from year to year is around 50 to 60 percent compare to around 1/4th in the 4-year teams. Mendoza is looking forward to the challenge of improving his wrestler’s skills and knowledge, plus making sure they are learning as a student in the college classroom setting to get their degree.
Highlights events in this year wrestling schedule are the Cowboy Open Tournament – Nov 7, 2017 (team will see wrestlers from all NCAA divisions), Conference Duals hosted at Northeastern on Jan.20, 2018 and the home dual against in state rival Otero Junior College on Jan 27th, 2018.
125lbs - Collin Metzgar, FR – Doherty High School; Brandon Ward, FR – Dolores High School
133lbs - Paul Cooksey, SO – Weld Central High School; Quintel Fuchs, SO – Billings High School (Montana)
141lbs - Justin Camacho, SO – Gateway High School (Florida); Sammy Eckhart, FR – Fruitland High School (Idaho); Jordan Jackson, FR – Northridge High School
149lbs - Matt Macarus, FR – Dekalb High School (Illinois); Ernie Quintana, FR – Erie High School
149/157lbs - Deron Solomon, FR – Rangeview High School;
157lbs - Justin Anderson, SO – Frontier Charter Academy; Anthony Curtis, JR – Cherry Creek High School
165lbs - Tyler Duff, FR – Heritage High School; Juan Gomez, SO – Valley High School; Ian Vigil, FR – Mullen High School
174lbs - P.J. Holtzhauser, SO – Sterling High School; Kaelan Jones, SO – Coral Springs High School (Florida)
184lbs - Tanai Gill, FR – Denver East High School; Kevin Overlin, SO – Liberty High School (Texas); Jose Rodriguez, SO – Brush High School
197lbs- Skile Ames, FR – Strasbug High School
197/285lbs - Dylan Buschow, SO – Blue Hill High School (Nebraska)
285lbs - Zachary Rowland, FR – Campbell County High School (Wyoming); Oscar Soto, SO – Brush High SChool