The Wartburg wrestling team has some new hardware for the trophy case after winning its third straight NCAA National Championship last weekend in Cedar Rapids.
The Knights finished with 103 team points to claim the title. Elmhurst was second with 82 points followed by UW-Whitewater in third.
The tenth overall title for the program was fitting for co-head coach Jim Miller’s final season.
“We built more than a wrestling program, we built a wrestling family,” Miller said. “It has been a blessing to be at Wartburg, it’s been a blessing my whole career, actually, but this has topped it off.”
“It was a lot of pressure,” co-head coach Eric Keller said. “We wanted to make sure he [Miller] went out the right way, anything other than that would’ve been a disappointment. That’s how it needed to end.”
Individually, Wartburg claimed one national champion: junior Kenny Anderson. Anderson became a two-time National Champion with a 9-1 major decision against UW-Whitewater’s Grant Sutter. Anderson is now a two-time All-American.
“It’s awesome,” Anderson said. “I can’t really explain it. It’s everything that we’ve worked for and I’ve worked for.”
Anderson dominated the whole match starting with his first takedown.
“I wanted to prove that he shouldn’t be on the same stage as me,” Anderson said.
[RELATED: Anderson takes advantage of second chance]
Defending 141-pound champ Kodie Silvestri made it to the finals at 149 pounds against Greg Sanders from Concordia (Wis.). With only seven seconds left in the third period, Sanders got a reversal giving him the 6-5 decision and Silvestri second place.
Silvestri and Anderson were not the only Knights on the podium at the end of the weekend.
Gilberto Camacho (125 lbs.) won both his matches on Friday, but lost in the third round on Saturday. He won his wrestleback match and ended up taking third place.
At 141 pounds, Tommy Mirocha won both his matches on Friday, including an exciting quarterfinals match with a 9-8 decision. He lost in the morning session on Saturday, but he still took home third place.
Cole Welter (157 lbs.) won his first round match but lost in the quarterfinals. Welter wrestled back and made it to Saturday’s round. He ended up placing fifth.
The defending champion at 165 pounds, Landon Williams, did not find the same success he did last year. Williams pulled out overtime wins in both his matches on Friday, but he fell on Saturday morning and he ended up taking fourth place.
Wartburg’s heavyweight, Ryan Fank, was the last competitor to place for the Knights. It was a tough road for Fank, but he finished the weekend in seventh place.
Dylan Azinger, Sam Upah and Puna Soriano did not place for Wartburg.
This is the 23rd year in a row that Wartburg has had multiple All-Americans. Those receiving the award this year were Camacho, Anderson, Mirocha, Silvestri, Welter, Williams and Fank.
Keller will take over the program next season.
“These things aren’t easy to win, that’s what makes them so special,” Keller said. “I’m just real proud of how they wrestled the whole time.”
“I’m just so elated,” Miller said. “I’m elated for our fans, for the college, and for our program as a whole. I know God put me at Wartburg for a reason and the ride has been just unbelievable.”
Top 10 Teams
1. Wartburg (103), 2. Elmhurst (82), 3. Wisconsin-Whitewater (78), 4. Wisconsin-La Crosse (56), 5. Ithaca (47), 6. Centenary (N.J.) (45), 7. The College of New Jersey (42.5), 8. Springfield (42), 9. Cortland State (40), 10. Augsburg (37)