Wrestling in a national championship is a tough undertaking. Hosting a national championship is exponentially harder––just ask Mercer head wrestling coach Kevin Andres. A very tired but elated Andres was glad to see Mercer and the city of Macon successfully host the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s championship tournament over March 10-12 at the University Center as 77 teams from all over the nation wrestled in the men’s and women’s brackets.
“The tournament went phenomenally and we had hundreds of compliments on facility,” Andres said after the tournament ended last Saturday. “Everyone wants to come back next year and do this again in the University Center,” he added.
Coordinating the logistics and running the tournament added responsibility for Andres, but despite his hosting efforts he was able to coach his men’s team to an 11th-place finish and his women’s team to a 2nd-place finish overall.
Teams from all across the United States dotted the UC arena where six mats contained the ongoing matches during the three-day event. Wrestling programs from California, Texas and the Northeast traveled for a chance at glory in this year’s edition of the NCWA Championships. Twice as large as the NCAA, the NCWA encompasses many of the Division I and Division II colleges and universities with competitive wrestling programs but without NCAA athletic status.
With such tough competition during the tournament, Andres couldn’t have been more pleased with his team’s effort.
“The team did very well and actually wrestled very close to the expectations we had set going into the weekend,” Andres said.
On the men’s side, Charlie Farr (7th – 285 lb.) and Derek Wojcik (7th – 174 lb.) were both named Freshman All-Americans with their impressive performances in the tournament and on the women’s side, Kalia Burnette won the 148 lb. category to become Mercer wrestling’s first women’s national champion by defeating Sarah McCurdy of Southern Virginia in a one-minute pin.
Altogether, the women’s side would have three other NCWA All-Americans including Christina Le (2nd – 159 lb.), Felicia Fowler (3rd – 148 lb.) and Mary Rosher (3rd – 176 lb.).
California Baptist (156.5) would top the men’s overall standings with Grand Valley State (121) and 2009 champion Central Florida (99.5) rounding out the top three teams in the Division I standings. Northwest Missouri State (45) would easily take the Division II men’s title while Yakima Valley CC (123.5) would run away with the women’s title, besting Mercer (45) by nearly 80 points.
Mercer’s 11th-place finish comes on the heels of their 3rd-place conference finish at the SEC Championship held at Palm Coast, Fla.