Six wrestlers will represent BG at nationals

Saturday marked the end of the season for most of the BGSU club wrestlers, as they finished seventh at the North Central Conference Championship at the University of Toledo student recreation center.

The Falcons, in their first year of existence, finished behind Mott Community College, UT, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Miami University and Grand Valley State University. GVSU had 17 top three finishers on Saturday and more than doubled Miami’s total points, but somehow dropped to No. 3 in the Feb. 20 coach’s poll, behind the Apprentice School at No.2 and Pensacola Christian College at No. 1.

“We work extremely hard,” said GVSU head coach Dave Mills about his team’s performance this season. “We’ve been practicing hard since September and we have a group of dedicated wrestlers and they have fun.”

Falcon junior Jon Berrien (133), who was seeded first in his weight class, also earned himself a bye in the first round of his bracket.

In his first match, Berrien beat Rio Grande’s Justin Flott, but was knocked to the loser’s bracket by Mott Community College sophomore Allen McMillan. Berrien finished the day with two victories, earning him a fourth place finish in his weight class and a trip to Grand Rapids, Mich. for the NCWA National Championships on March 3-4. And Berrien won’t be the only Falcon heading to Grand Rapids for the tournament.

Sophomore Blaine Napier (184), junior Thomas Parker (285) and sophomore Anthony Nicholson (141) will also begin their spring break at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids for the NCWA National Championships, but wrestling in big tournaments isn’t anything new for these wrestlers.

“I’m going to be a little nervous at first, but I’ve been in big tournaments like this one, so once I get my first match out of the way I think I’ll be fine the rest of the way,” Napier said. “Reaching nationals was a big goal of mine, but I have another one, that’s to become an All-American. It will be the ultimate goal at the end of my season.”

Nicholson notched his team best 17th win of the season on Saturday and finished 3-1, the lone Falcon wrestler to finish the day with a winning record as well as the only Falcon to finish in the top three of his weight class.

“The main goal of the season is to reach nationals and to do whatever you have to do to get there,” Nicholson said. “I’d like to place at nationals and I feel I have a very good shot. My wrestling has taken me this far, there is no doubt in my mind that I can wrestle very effectively at nationals.”

Opening up ceremonies for the tournament will be legendary wrestler, coach and sport icon Dan Gable, who compiled an astounding 181-1 record during his college and prep career and was an Olympic gold medalist in 1972. Gable also coached the Iowa Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA titles, nine of which were consecutive from 1978 to 1986, and six of which were won from 1991 to 1997.

However, the thought of going to nationals and being in the presence of a legend like Dan Gable doesn’t seem to intimidate these wrestlers.

“There’s a saying out there, when you get butterflies in your stomach before a big match all you have to do is turn those butterflies in the soaring falcons and everything will be fine,” Nicholson said.

Earning a first round bye in his bracket was Falcon junior and team president Dan Mundrick (149). However, Mundrick’s day ended quickly after he lost his first match to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee senior Gabriel Wahab. Mundrick (14-4) received a wild card entry to the national tournament along with teammate James White (149). “Sometimes you just have an off day and that’s what happens,” Mundrick said.