Wrestlers set records, place fourth at National Duals

GVL / Robert Mathews 
A Laker wrestler at the Laker Classic Wrestling Tournament this past week in the Fieldhouse.

Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews A Laker wrestler at the Laker Classic Wrestling Tournament this past week in the Fieldhouse.

Jon Van Zytveld

Traveling to Dalton, Ga., for the two-day NCWA National Duals Meet on Jan. 27, the Grand Valley State University club wrestling team took the mat in its biggest match of the season.

The team placed fourth in the field of 24 teams, marking the sixth consecutive top-five finish for the Lakers at the NCWA National Duals, a NCWA record. Initially seeded at six going in, the Lakers were pleased with the result.

“We were selected out of over 160 teams from our division, it was the best of the best, and to rise to the top of that was great,” said GVSU coach Rick Bolhuis. “We lost several of our guys earlier in the season and we just recently got some of those guys back on the mat, so we weren’t sure what the result would be, but we ended up being very pleased.”

On the first day of the meet, the Lakers pulled off two strong victories over Auburn University and East Tennessee State University, 49-9 and 58-3, respectively. Sophomore Andy Brown (133 pounds) recorded a major decision during the Auburn match and helped lead his team to victory. Sophomore Matt Morrill (141) also had a strong match, yielding a fall over East Tennessee.

“I started off strong at National Duals,” Morrill said. “The competition ramped up from there because we were facing the best teams from our division. As we continued the weekend, we kept running into increasingly tough teams, and even though we didn’t win everything, we wrestled to the best of our ability.”

On day two, the Lakers handily defeated competitors from the University of North Florida for a 44-6 victory and narrowly edged out Lindenwood-Belleville University, 24-23, securing a place for the Lakers in the semifinals. Senior Carl Worthy (235), who remains undefeated in dual meet competitions over his three seasons wrestling for GVSU, had a particularly strong match against Lindenwood-Belleville and earned a fall to give the Lakers their thin winning margin.

After two close losses, to Lindenwood-St. Charles University and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, 41-12 and 31-10, respectively, the Lakers found themselves at fourth place.

While the result of the meet was essentially a team effort, standout wrestlers like Worthy and rising stars like Brown and Morrill were a large part of the team’s success.

“The sophomores, particularly Brown and Morrill, have really led the team this season,” Bolhuis said. “When I was out earlier in the season for hip surgery, they stepped up and have pushed the team. I think we have a group of guys that love wrestling and who are doing it for the right reasons. Our program pushes them, and they love to work out and compete. When they’re like minded like that and have a common goal, they do well.”

“I think some of the members of the team might be surprised by the difficulty of the qualifying matches for Nationals,” Morrill said. “We’re going to go up against some tough teams soon, but I think that we will be able to keep pushing and make it to Nationals. That’s our goal.”

On Sunday, the Lakers will host the MYWA Wrestling Tournament. The Lakers will hit the mat at 9 am.

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