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NCC's GVSU Repeats as NCWA National Champion

03/19/2007 -

North Central Conference’s
GVSU Repeats as NCWA National Champion

North Central Conference Champion, Grand Valley State University, was crowned for the second consecutive year, as the NCWA National Champion at the NCWA National Championships held in Dallas, Texas, March 8-10, 2007. GVSU outdistanced a very strong second place team, The University of Central Florida, by forty-five points to claim GVSU’s fourth national title in the past seven years. Lead by new head coach, Rick Bolhuis, the Lakers produced two individual National Champions with first place finishes by Joe Mendez at 133 and Billy Johnson at 165, followed by a second place finish by GVSU’s John Aikens at 197 and third place finishes by Lakers’ Dan Schaaf at 125, Anthony Ferguson at 184 and Kelvin Miller at 235. In all, GVSU’s talented team produced thirteen All-Americans, also including Nicholas Emery (125), Kyle Shank and Chris Eggleston (both at 141), Adam Ortiz and Travis Eisen (both at 149), Russell Correll (157) and Michael Paul (174).

NCWA top ten finishes were also turned in by Mott Community College (sixth) and Southern Indiana University (eighth). Mott wrestlers claimed two third place spots by All-Americans Tony Mochty (157) and Bryce Walser (174). USI saw All-American Brandon Pinkston take third at 197 and an All-American performance by Joe Hillenbrand at 133.

Besides GVSU’s Mendez and Johnson, the North Central Conference was also well represented by two other individual National Champions, Miami University’s Duke Begy at 157 and University of Toledo’s Adam Murray at 197, with University of Rio Grande’s Lance Esch claiming a runner up spot at 165. GVSU’s Johnson and UT’s Murray won individual National Championships for the second consecutive year.

In total, the North Central Conference had twenty-three wrestlers earn All-American honors including University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s Gabriel Wahhab (149), Ohio State University’s Julian Valencia (165), Northland Baptist Bible College’s Aaron Scott (174), USI’s Michael Coughlin (174), Miami’s Andrew Brinker (235) and Mott’s Patrick McNulty (285).

The depth of the NCC wrestling was further evident with a sweep of the top three places at 197 by Murray (UT), Aikens (GVSU) and Pinkston (USI). In addition, the NCC placed at least one All-American in each weight class.

Four of the NCC’s own were inducted at the National Championships into the first ever class of the NCWA Hall of Fame. Long-time GVSU coaches, Dave Mills and Tom Krepps, along with University of Toledo’s team founder, Bryan Knepper, were honored with Hall of Fame memberships for their impact on the development of the NCWA and their support of collegiate wrestling.

By Ken White, BGSU
North Central Conference Sports Information Director