Melinn wins heavyweight national title

Courtesy Photo / Rick Bolhuis
GVSUs Corey Melinn wins National Championship

Courtesy Photo / Rick Bolhuis GVSU’s Corey Melinn wins National Championship

Greg Monahan

After chasing the elusive heavyweight title for four years, senior heavyweight Corey Melinn finally has his national championship.

Melinn traveled south this weekend with the rest of the Grand Valley State University wrestling team to Macon, Ga. for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s National Championships.

He went undefeated in five matches, including two pins with one in just 59 seconds, to capture the individual title in the heavyweight division.

After finishing fifth and third in years past in the same division, Melinn said he knew it was all or nothing in his last shot to take the title.

“Right now, it’s an unreal feeling that I’ve been waiting four years for,” Melinn said. “It’s just like a numb feeling. I don’t even believe that it happened.”

After going 4-0 to start the tournament, in the final, the 285-pound senior faced California Baptist University’s Alex Evers, a familiar foe for Melinn.

“I had wrestled the kid before and beat him 2-1, and I knew I had to be patient and wait for him to make a mistake,” he said. “He made that mistake shooting on me, and I sprawled and got behind him, and as soon as that happened I knew I could just hang on for a minute and win the title.”

As a team, the Lakers led for a majority of the tournament before falling behind to California Baptist, which ended up taking the title. The 122 points for GVSU was good for second place, which marked the seventh time in the past eight years the Lakers have finished in the top two.

“The goal is obviously always first, but taking second to a really good team and competing like we did – because we had them scared for a couple rounds – has us feeling pretty happy about our performance,” said junior Nate Hall. “We really competed above our level for a while, and guys are always shooting to do better, but we’re excited.”

Melinn’s title is the 22nd time in the past 11 years that a Laker has won an individual championship, and he was joined by eight other Lakers at nationals in receiving All-American honors.

This marks the third time in four years that Melinn was named as an All-American, something that GVSU head coach Rick Bolhuis called “remarkable” considering Melinn did not even plan on wrestling until finding out about the team at GVSU Student Life Night as a freshman.

“He’s a kid that didn’t even make it to the state meet in high school,” Bolhuis said. “He came to us as someone who was just hungry to wrestle and wanted to achieve big things, and he has just busted his tail. I couldn’t be happier for him – really pleased.”

Not even Melinn foresaw an individual national title when he joined the club in late 2007.

“No way at all did I imagine this as a freshman,” he said. “No one knew who I was. I thought I’d come in and have some fun, and I realized what was possible after my freshman year. I worked hard to improve myself and become what I am today.”

Although GVSU will lose Melinn to graduation, the team is still young and will graduate just five of the 40 wrestlers on the roster.

“Grand Valley is always right there, and we’ll continue to stay there,” Hall said.

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