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MHS grad places 6th at NJCAA wrestling championships

Mar 09, 2023 12:16PM ● By Liisa London Mecham

TENLEY KAE JONES stands on the podium after placing 6th at the NJCAA Wrestling Tournament.

A 2002 Morgan High graduate and state champion wrestler, Tenley Kae Jones, earned sixth place at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) wrestling tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa, last weekend, March 3-4. Jones, who now wrestles for Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Oklahoma, was named an All-American at 101 pounds. As a team, the Vikings placed sixth overall.

Jones entered the tournament as a #2 seed and opened with a bye. In her quarterfinal match, she won by tech fall, 12-2, over Iowa Western and earned a spot in the semifinals. Jones was injured in the semifinal match against the eventual champion from Indian Hills and was forced to withdraw after a concussion was diagnosed by her trainer. She forfeited her final two matches due to her injury but still placed sixth overall.

Jones would have liked to have finished wrestling the tournament to “see what I could do” and described her injury as “super frustrating,” but she is grateful for a coaching staff that was looking out for her welfare and long-term health. 

“Being an All-American is a huge accomplishment,” Jones said in an interview while in Oklahoma. “It feels great to place sixth and to have been there with my team. It was eye-opening to think that we had eight girls going to nationals, and we were there to win.”

“My team helped prepare me for Nationals,” she said. “We have an amazing team that is super encouraging. We are all there for each other. It is amazing to watch us all come together for nationals. We don’t have a huge team, but it is an amazing culture to be in. Five All-Americans out of eight wrestlers and placing sixth is amazing!”

Jones also credits her experience wrestling freestyle with Team Utah “for a long time” with helping prepare her for college wrestling. High school girls’ wrestling is folkstyle, but women’s wrestling in college is all freestyle – the same style that is wrestled internationally and at the Olympics.

“My practice partner, Lexi Miller, is awesome. She really helped me improve. She won a national championship at 109 pounds,” Jones said. “My coaches Jake Lords, Blake Andrews and Jared Crain have been very supportive and helpful too.”

Jones’s parents were able to travel to Council Bluffs to see her wrestle for the first time this year. Poteau, Oklahoma, lies about 20 miles from the Arkansas border and is nearly 1,300 miles from Jones’ home in Henefer, so her parents weren’t able to watch any regular season matches. “It was so great to have my parents there,” Jones said. “I really enjoyed seeing them.” 

Jones originally signed a Letter of Intent to wrestle closer to home at Snow College this year, but plans changed when her cousin, Tristin Smith, a North Summit graduate who wrestled at Carl Albert State, brought home some teammates to visit early last summer. 

“Tristin brought home some teammates, and it was love that took me to Carl Albert State. Coach Ross at Snow released me, and I was able to walk on at Carl Albert. My boyfriend, Alec Capehart, wrestles for them at 157 pounds in the men’s program.”

“Sometimes we would practice together with the guy’s team this season,” she said. “I enjoyed working with them because they are more intense. The entire wrestling program, men’s and women’s, is a big family, super nice and super supportive.”

Jones enjoys Carl Albert because it is a smaller community college with smaller classes where the professors spend time individually helping students. She is studying business and would love to continue her wrestling career at a four-year university and study Agricultural Business and return to work on her family farm.

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