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Daniel Cormier Retires

July 5th, 2014 by Tom

wrestling shoes

Daniel Cormier retires from wrestling for good, leaves his shoes on the mat after win over Chris Pendleton.


Daniel Cormier tied a ribbon around his prestigious amateur wrestling career earlier this afternoon, defeating former Oklahoma State University (OSU) teammate, Chris Pendleton, in an exhibition match at UFC's "Fan Expo" in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"DC" went down early (0-3), but the U.S. freestyle wrestling team captain (2008) stormed back to record a dominant win on points (12-5).

He summed up the experience in a post-match interview with MMAFighting.com:

"I didn't get to wrestle in the Olympics, I didn’t get to do my last match, so I wanted to finish my career on mat, rather than in the hospital. I wanted to end it on the mat.... It felt crazy. I was so nervous before, and then Chris takes me down and he’s winning 3-0. It was kind of scary, man, I don’t like to lose. It was crazy.... It was a good finish. Now that I’m in the UFC and fighting in the UFC, and to do it at the Fan Expo, it means a lot. I guess it's a symbol of completely finishing that chapter and moving onto the next chapter in my life. I can feel it now already there was something back with wrestling that I needed to get rid of, and now I can move on from it."

Pendleton is certainly no scrub. He was a two-time Big 12 champion who won back-to-back NCAA titles (2004, 2005) at 174 pounds at the expense of uber-talented mat rat, Ben Askren.

And Cormier was able to handle him despite an injured knee, one that will require surgery to repair later this year as he awaits the winner of Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson, which is now set for UFC 178 in Las Vegas on Sept. 27, 2014.

NCAA Wrestler Loses Eligibility Because He Made an Inspirational Rap Song Under His Real Name

March 1st, 2013 by Tom

The International Olympic Committee may have kicked wrestling out of the Olympics, but the ancient sport lives on in the lives of the many amateur athletes still taking part in competitions.

One wrestler at the University of Minnesota may have seen his days as a competitive wrestler come to an end, however " all because he recorded an inspirational rap song.

Joel Bauman is a 21-year-old redshirt sophomore wrestling for the University of Minnesota. At least, he was. The NCAA just ruled Bauman ineligible to compete for the rest of the season.

The reason? A song called "Ones in the Sky," an inspirational rap song that Bauman recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The song is also available for download on iTunes, for the customary 99 cents.

The NCAA isn't exactly thrilled about this. The organization says Bauman is running afoul of its rules, which stipulate that amateur athletes cannot use their name, image or status to sell a commercial product.

From the sound of things, Bauman could make this whole problem go away and continue taking part in NCAA competitions if he simply changed the song's credit to list him under a pseudonym. He wants none of that, however.

"I think a lot of artists and rappers today hide behind their aliases," Bauman told the New York Times. "They don't want to take responsibility for what they're actually saying. I'm Joel Bauman. My message is: I will inspire, and I will impact. I am not going to hide behind an alias to do that, because that's my message. I can own up to that message."

The University of Minnesota team isn't exactly hurting without Bauman " they just regained the top spot in the national rankings " but it's the principle of this story that matters. Bauman will be stripped of his athletic scholarship if he doesn't regain his eligibility.

"I have a plan to figure this whole thing out, to be able to do both," he said, perhaps overly hopeful of a positive resolution. "But my message is more important than my eligibility in the long run. So if I can't, then so be it."

Respect Your Opponent – Equality In Sports

November 5th, 2012 by Tom

Three-time NCAA all-American wrestler, Hudson Taylor and Athlete Ally are taking aim at, homophobia and sexism in sports and, working, to bring real, sportsmanship.

Any sport is about respect. Respecting yourself, your opponent and your team. And respect includes equality.

Since having his own "ah-ha "moment in 2010, Taylor has tried to bridge the gaps between athletes and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities across the country, he said

"My senior year, I wore a human rights campaign sticker on my headgear because I thought it would look cool, "said Taylor, who is now a wrestling coach at Columbia University. "I had no intention of turning it into anything... but in response, I got thousands of emails from closeted kids across country, and that was my 'ah-ha' moment."

For the past two years, Taylor has dedicated his life to being an LGBT ally, focusing his attention on athletics.

Taylor's journey into activism includes talking with his religious family about being an LGBT ally and fearing his teammates would think he was gay.

"If I can remove or flush out some of the obstacles and explain how I overcame them, then maybe they'll also take a stand, "he said.

Last year, Taylor launched Athlete Ally, a nonprofit that encourages the athletic community to respect all individuals

A hostile attitude toward the LGBT community is not unique to athletes, Taylor said, but the competitive nature of sports fuels discrimination through phrases like "don't be a fag "and "you throw like a girl."

"There's a combination of homophobia and sexism in sports, "Taylor said.

Sean Espinoza, a CU senior and member of the co-ed cheer team, said as an openly gay athlete, he relates to both sides of the issue.

During a recent football game, Espinoza said he was cheering to the student section when he heard a student yell, "tackle that faggot. "Espinoza pointed to the student and told him to "watch his mouth "through his megaphone.

While the student did not apologize, he seemed embarrassed, and Espinoza said he didn't hear another slur that day.

"I've experienced homophobia and jerks everywhere, but one thing I've appreciated is that people seem to take responsibility for themselves when it's pointed out, "Espinoza said. "Overall, my experience as an openly gay athlete at CU has been pretty positive.

Espinoza said he holds the LGBT students partially responsible for the disconnect between the gay community and athletes.

"It's up to LGBT students and allies to stand up to athletes and correct the language that's being used, "Espinoza said. "They're just as wrong for staying away from sporting events rather than going and making a statement."

Taylor said he won't be happy unless he inspires at least one student to take action.

"I'll encourage the athletes to reach out to me and help them become allies too, but at the end of day if there's no next step, my visit's a failure, "Taylor said.

Take the Athlete Ally pledge today and, promote the best of athletics by making all players feel respected on and off the field.

NDSU Wrestling Preview

November 1st, 2012 by Tom

This year's NDSU wrestling team's members will look to build off the wins they were able to get last year. Last year, the Bison's returning wrestlers went for a combined 309-186 while being 49-54 in duals. Last year's members that are returning this season had a total 66 pins and will attempt to come out of this season with an even better total.

There are eighteen returning wrestlers from last year's team, some of which include Anthony Caputo (157 pounds, 18-11 overall, 0-0 duals, 5 pins), Tanner Carlisle (149 pounds, 9-5 overall, 0-0 duals, 1 pin), Mark Erickson (141 pounds, 22-18 overall, 6-9 duals, 2 pins), Paul Johnson (141 pounds, 0-2 overall, 0-0 duals, 0 pins), Kurtis Julson (174 pounds, 15-6 overall, 2-1 duals, 3 pins), Kallen Kleinschmidt (197 pounds, 10-4 overall, 0-0 duals, 3 pins), Evan Knutson (285 pounds, 21-18 overall, 4-11 duals, 6 pins), Steven Monk (165 pounds, 36-9 overall, 13-2 duals, 13 pins), Kody Sorenson (184 pounds 17-9 overall, 0-0 duals, 4 pins), Trent Sprenkle (125 pounds, 33-12 overall, 11-4 duals, 9 pins), Mac Stoll (184 pounds, 24-14 overall, 8-6 duals, 1 pin), and Hayden Zillmer (149 pounds, 21-5 overall, 0-0 duals, 3 pins).

There will also be eleven upcoming freshmen on the team and one new coming sophomore.

There are Monk, Sprenkle, and Stoll that are all currently ranked in preseason polls for the Bison. All of these wrestlers made it to the NCAA Championship tournament last season.

Monk is ranked No. 8 by Amateur Wrestling News, No. 10 by WIN Magazine, and No. 10 by D1 College Wrestling in the 165-pound division. Last year, Monk was one win away from All-America honors in the NCAA Championships and led the Bison in wins with 36.

Sprenkle is No. 9 in the Amateur Wrestling News rankings, No. 10 in the WIN Magazine rankings and No. 10 in the D1 College Wrestling rankings in the 125-pound class. Sprenkle was also one win short of All-America honors in the NCAA Championships last season.

Stoll is ranked No. 19 by Amateur Wrestling News and by WIN Magazine and No. 23 by D1 College Wrestling.

These wrestlers will look to help lead this year's Bison wrestling team this season that will start with an Alumni Dual in Fargo on Friday.

The first meet for NDSU will be the Bison Open on Saturday, November 10th.

OSU Cowboy Wrestling Targets Big 12 and NCAA Success

October 28th, 2012 by Tom

 STILLWATER"Fielding a lineup led by four All-Americans plus two other veteran starters, the Oklahoma State wrestling team is in its customary position to figure prominently into the Big 12 and national championship races.

"We're going into a collegiate season with the top seven or eight programs from last year," OSU head coach, John Smith, said. "Most everybody is back on every team, and it makes it really competitive. We helped ourselves out a little bit by getting, Tyler Caldwell, and I believe that we'll fill some spots where we were weak last year."

Despite the departure of All-American, Cayle Byers, Big 12 champion, Jamal Parks, and NCAA qualifier, Albert White, from last year's team, the Cowboys enter the 2012-13 season with six wrestlers ranked in the top 15 of their respective weight classes in the preseasonAmateur Wrestling News, weight class rankings.

Junior 174-pounder, Chris Perry, is ranked No. 1 nationally with 165-pounder Caldwell and 285-pounder, Alan Gelogaev, both ranked No. 2 in their respective weight classes., Jordan Oliver, enters the season ranked No. 4 at 149 pounds but will factor into the NCAA title discussion no matter where he wrestles. Rounding out the list of Cowboys appearing in the preseason, AWN, rankings are 197-pounder, Blake Rosholt, (seventh), 125-pounder, Jon Morrison, (15th) and 141-pounder, Josh Kindig, (15th).

The weight classes most likely to show fluidity during the course of the season are 125 pounds and 133 pounds, with Morrison, Ladd Rupp, and, Tyler Dorrell, all in the mix for those two starting spots. Morrison has seen the most meaningful action of the batch, but has yet to assert clear control based on his career body of work. Rupp has been in the Cowboy wrestling room for three years and is a very real candidate to become a starter for the first time in his career. It is probable that Morrison and Rupp will compete for the 133-pound spot while Dorrell sees most of the action at 125 pounds, but it is possible for Morrison and Rupp to see 125-pound action as well.

There could also be some shuffling at 141 and 149 pounds, where, Josh Kindig, and, Jordan Oliver, headline the list of preseason candidates to start.

Oliver's presence is particularly significant because he spent the first four years of his collegiate career cutting weight to get down to 133 pounds, where he was nothing short of dominant. A three-time All-American and two-time national finalist, Oliver won the 2011 NCAA title as a sophomore. Smith said Oliver's weight-class switch is done in part with an eye toward the future.

"It's just a natural move for him," Smith said. "We haven't decided if he'll be at 141 or 149 yet, but for his progression of moving into international wrestling after this season - he sees himself at 145 there - this move would be a good transition for that."

It should come as no surprise that Oliver developed a taste for world-level wrestling given that he spent the summer of 2012 with the U.S. Olympic team as a training partner for bronze medalist Coleman Scott and Jared Frayer.

"That experience that he got during the summer - sometimes you don't see it right away - but as he moves on into the future, it will benefit him greatly," Smith said.

The final weight class where there is some question as to who will start is 157 pounds, where junior, Dallas Bailey, and redshirt freshman, Alex Dieringer, will likely compete for the starting spot with senior, Joe Ali, also an option. While Bailey is an experienced member of the program, he hasn't put together the kind of career résumé that would make him a lock to start over the decorated redshirt freshman Dieringer.

Things get more solidified as you move up in the weight classes and it starts at 165 pounds, where two-time All-American and 2011 NCAA runner-up Caldwell is likely to make an impact from the start. After spending his first two years competing for Oklahoma, Caldwell took an Olympic redshirt year in 2011-12 before transferring to Oklahoma State. He should be a national presence for the Cowboys at a weight class where they haven't had an All-American since, Johny Hendricks, in 2007.

For the first time in his collegiate career, Perry carries the No. 1 ranking nationally in his weight class. The Stillwater native placed third at NCAAs in 2012 and is a two-time Big 12 champion. The two wrestlers who finished ahead of him last season are both out of the mix this year, with NCAA champ Ed Ruth of Penn State moving out of the weight class and Nick Amuchastegui of Stanford out of eligibility.

OSU is likely to start a newcomer at 184 pounds in, Chris Chionuma, who was impressive in the wrestling room and in open tournaments while redshirting last season. Chionuma wrestled the first three years of his career at Lindenwood University, where he was a three-time NAIA All-American, two-time NAIA finalist and 2011 NAIA champion at 174 pounds. Other options at 184 pounds include, Zach White, and, Colton Hill.

After wrestling at a high level last year, Rosholt will start at 197 pounds for the Cowboys. Rosholt was part of an embarrassment-of-riches scenario a year ago, as both he and Byers wrestled at an All-America level throughout the course of the season but only one could compete in the postseason and the nod went to the senior Byers. Rosholt now holds commanding control of the weight class and is positioned for a big year after taking his lumps as a fill-in heavyweight his freshman year and sitting out of the postseason as a sophomore.

One of the most intriguing wrestlers to watch nationally will be Cowboy heavyweight, Alan Gelogaev, who established himself as an NCAA title contender by stringing together a 24-0 record with nine wins over ranked opponents before suffering a season-ending injury last year. He's back this year with a title squarely in his sights. Should he go down, Tyson Yoder, is a capable veteran backup., Austin Marsden, who stepped in for Gelogaev last season, is ticketed to redshirt this year.

"Right now, it's all about developing the weight classes where we struggled last year," Smith said. "It's also really important that we keep everyone healthy. I'm excited for our veterans in the lineup. We have a really good atmosphere in the room and great team unity. There's where great seasons start."

Iowa governor declares Oct. 25 ‘Dan Gable Day’ to honor wrestling legend

October 20th, 2012 by Tom

 The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum announced Wednesday that Iowa governor Terry Branstad will declare Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Dan Gable Day across the entire state. A special presentation will be made at the NWHFDGM in Waterloo, where Gable was a three-time state champion at Waterloo West.

"Dan Gable embodies commitment, perseverance, and dedication"values that are the foundation of the great state of Iowa and its people," said Branstad in a news release. "I am honored be part of this historic event."

Almost everyone knows Gable's resume, including two-time NCAA champion and three-time national finalist at Iowa State and the 1972 Olympic gold medalist, at Munich, Germany. His Olympic title was highlighted by the fact he didn't allow a single point in competition.

Gable coached the University of Iowa from 1977-1997, guiding the Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA team titles and 21 Big Ten championships. Gable was honored in April with, a bronze statue outside of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Below is a news release from NWHFDGM:

Dan Gable Day to be declared by governor

WATERLOO"Iowa's greatest sports figure and Iowa's longest serving governor will be the focal point of a special presentation in Waterloo. Iowa governor Terry Branstad will declare October 25, 2012, as Dan Gable Day statewide with a special proclamation to be read at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.

Gable was born in Waterloo, Iowa, on October 25, 1948. He turns 64 on the day of the presentation.

"Dan Gable embodies commitment, perseverance, and dedication"values that are the foundation of the great state of Iowa and its people," said Branstad. "I am honored be part of this historic event."

Gable won three individual state wrestling titles at West Waterloo (1964-1966) and compiled a 64-0 career high school record. He went on to win two individual NCAA titles at Iowa State University with a career college record of 117-1. Gable won an Olympic gold medal at the 1972 Munich Olympics without surrendering a point.

Gable went on to lead the University of Iowa to 15 NCAA championships and 21 consecutive Big 10 titles in 21 seasons (1977-1997) during his tenure as head wrestling coach. In 2000, Sports Illustrated named him the top sports in the state. There are three statues throughout the state dedicated to Dan Gable's legacy.

The event begins at 9 a.m. with a reception at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum. A short program will begin at 10 a.m. with comments from Governor Branstad and Dan Gable. The proclamation declaring October 25, 2012, as Dan Gable Day will be read aloud by Governor Branstad.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum is located at 303 Jefferson St. in Waterloo. Contact the museum at (319)233-0745 or [email protected] with questions about the event. This event is free and open to the public.

Chapman will share stories of Iowans on Oct. 18

October 18th, 2012 by Tom

 CHARLES CITY " The Floyd County Community Foundation is hosting an evening of powerful stories about Iowans on Oct. 18.

These stories will be presented by inspirational speaker Mike Chapman at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 502 Clark St.

This event is free and open to the public. The evening will begin with a social hour at 5 p.m., followed by Chapman's presentation at 6 p.m.

Chapman, a native of Waterloo, is the publisher of the Iowa History Journal.

He had a 35-year newspaper career from which he retired in 2002, and in 2009 he retired from an 11-year career serving as the executive director of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum.

Chapman has written 23 books, 14 of them on wrestling, and his articles have appeared in dozens of national and regional magazines.

As a reporter, he has attended 43 NCAA wrestling tournaments, two Olympics and two World Championships. He has won numerous awards for journalism and writing and has been named National Wrestling Writer of the Year five times by four different amateur wrestling organizations.

Chapman is also the founder of WIN Magazine, one of the nation's top amateur wrestling publications; the WIN Memorabilia Show, which draws 8,000 fans each year to the NCAA Championships, and the Dan Hodge Trophy, which goes each year to the top college wrestler in the United States.

He has interviewed,  Ronald Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Robert Redford, Lou Ferrigno and many others.

Chapman has appeared on numerous TV shows - including the networks ESPN, A&E, Fox Sports and Iowa Public Television. He has been the guest on over 200 radio talk shows.

American University to host 2012 National Wrestling Coaches Associaton All-Star Classic

September 28th, 2012 by Tom

 American University will host the 47th annual All-Star Classic on November 3, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. The classic will be held in Bender Arena on the campus of American University in Washington D.C.

"It is the greatest wrestling that's going to happen in college this November," said American University head coach Teague Moore in an interview with Takedown Radio.

The event will feature 20 of the nation's top division one wrestlers, participants will be selected here in the upcoming weeks and each wrestler will be announced as they commit.

"Fans can expect to see high paced, action packed wrestling matches that many times have been the precursor to the year-end NCAA finals bouts," said Moore.

The All-Star Classic will be the largest wrestling event in history to be held in Washington D.C. National Wrestling Coaches Association Executive Director Mike Moyer hopes that the magnitude of the event in combination with Washington D.C. having one of the strongest wrestling spectator bases in America will cause the event to have great success.

"Sports fans and the wrestling public will have to recognize the current rise of this region's success," said Moore. "This event will change the perspective of wrestling for the DC area."

The NWCA selected American University, a historically successful wrestling program, as the location for the event due to its partnership with the Greater Washington Wrestlers in Business Network. The solid corporate support that existed within the relationship made American University a solid choice, said Moyer.

American University looks to use the attention their school will receive to show to the public and their student body the success that their wrestling program embodies.

"My hopes are that the student body will see the excitement that wrestling can bring to sports fans," said Moore. "They will recognize the wrestling community's commitment to the sport when so many out of town sports fans arrive on our campus. This will continue to bolster our reputation as a nationally prominent program in the sport of wrestling."

American University hopes to continue their recent success in this event. In both 2010 and 2011 recent graduate Ryan Flores won the 285 pound heavyweight weight class.

Tickets will be on sale later in September. Tickets will be $25 for reserve seating, $15 for general admission and $10 for group purchases of 20 tickets or more.

For additional information on this year's event visit the NWCA website at, http://www.nwcaonline.com/NWCAWebSite/Events/nwcaallstarclassic.aspx. More information on the All-Star Classic will also be released as the event gets closer.

NWCA was founded in 1928. The NWCA strives to promote and provide leadership for the advancement of amateur wrestling, primarily at the scholastic and collegiate levels.

Best NCAA Wrestlers Turned MMA Fighters

December 3rd, 2011 by Tom

By Brian Lopez-Benchimol

Of all the bases of martial arts to build upon a budding, MMA, career, wrestling has been one of the truer and more dominant.

Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of accomplished wrestlers entering the sport today, with some reaching great heights in becoming world champions in their respective organizations.

The NCAA wrestler represents the upper echelon of competitive athletes who have garnered praise from their conferences, often times having been scouted by larger universities due to their obvious prowess.

So, among the world's best MMA fighters today, who came from an NCAA background?

Ben Askren

Current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, who recently defeated former UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jay Hieron in the first defense of his title, comes from a long and very prestigious background as an athlete.

Wrestling for the University of Missouri, Askren earned two state titles as a high school wrestler prior to his entry into the big leagues. As a collegiate wrestler, Askren became a runner-up at 174 pounds at the NCAA Division I championships in both 2004 and 2005. He later claimed the title in 2006 and 2007"making him one of the more accomplished athletes to have ever been as successfully competitive.

Askren parlayed his skills toward the 2008 Olympics. Though he came up short there, he has since rebounded with the success he has reached now, becoming an undefeated and highly touted mixed martial artist.

Joe Warren

Current Bellator featherweight champion-turned-bantamweight hopeful Joe Warren has enjoyed a lot of success as an MMA fighter while he is still gunning for a competitive amateur career as a wrestler.

Warren attended East Kentwood High School, where he won two state titles before attending the University of Michigan. His star really shined afterwards.

Warren took gold in two World Cup tournaments before earning first once again in the prestigious Pan American Games in 2006, making him an early favorite in the 2008 Olympic Games. However, Warren failed to qualify for the prestigious tournament after he had tested positive for marijuana in the pre-drug screenings.

He will now look to accomplish the feat that had slipped his grasp in years prior, as Warren will look to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Chuck Liddell

The former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell came from a long history of athleticism as a youth.

At the age of 12, Liddell began Koei-Kan Karate and later took up football in high school, become a four-year starter at San Marcos High.

Liddell would later attend California Polytechnic State University, transitioning his skills to the mat, where he became an NCAA Division I wrestler for the school, though he failed to acquire any real title recognition.

No matter, as Liddell has since used his wrestling base, coupled with knockout power, to become one of the most recognized and popular fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. He has since been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Cain Velasquez

The current UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez comes from a rich background as a wrestler.

Velasquez took to sports early, as he wrestled all four years at Kofa High School, winning the 5A Arizona Wrestling Championship twice, compiling an astonishing 110-10 record in those formative years.

Velasquez attended Iowa Central Community College, where he wrestled for one season and won the NJCAA National Championship.

The heavyweight great went to the prestigious Arizona State University, where he became a standout early on the NCAA Division I scene, placing fifth in the country in 2005 and fourth in 2006 while compiling an overall record 86-17.

Now, Velasquez enjoys the success of his MMA career, where he remains undefeated and presides as the UFC's undisputed heavyweight ruler.

Matt Hughes

The former two-time UFC welterweight champion built his illustrious career as a mixed martial artist thanks to his extensive wrestling background.

Hughes attended Hillsboro High School, where he became a two-time IHSA Class A State Wrestling Champion at 155 pounds. Next, Hughes attended Eastern Illinois University, where he immediately earned NCAA Division I All-American honors, placing eighth and fifth in his final two years at 157.

Though collegiate titles escaped him there, Hughes has since become one of the more accomplished mixed martial artist to have ever lived.

Randy Couture

How do you follow after such an illustrious photo like that?

As a youth, Couture wrestled early in life beginning in middle school before attending Lynwood High School, where he became state champion in his senior year.

Couture later attended Oklahoma State, where he became a two-time runner-up for the NCAA Division I championship while earning All-American honors. After his collegiate career, Couture went on to become a three-time Olympic alternate before transitioning to the world of mixed martial arts.

There, Couture first claimed the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth bout as a professional. Since then, Couture has acquired a total of five titles in the organization"three in the heavyweight class and two as a 205-pounder, a feat that has been unmatched since.

Josh Koscheck

Koscheck comes from a long and rich background as an amateur wrestler and, on paper, was one of the best to enter the Octagon.

Coming into prominence at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Koscheck won all of his 42 matches as a junior, going on to become the Division I champion at 174 pounds.

The enigmatic Kosheck earned All-American honors after coming in fourth, second, first and third, respectively, in his four years at Edinboro. His accomplishments helped earn him three PSAC Wrestler of the Year awards while earning the Eastern Wrestling League Achievement Award on two separate occasions.

Since then, Koscheck has been regarded as one of the top-five welterweight fighters in MMA, having defeated the likes of Diego Sanchez, Paul Daley and Matt Hughes in his career, while challenging for a world title in the process.

Kevin Randleman

The future UFC heavyweight champion was always a powerhouse, even in his earlier days as a youth.

Randleman attended the prestigious Ohio State University, where he competed at 177 pounds. Randleman became the two-time NCAA Division I champion, earning All-American honors after his incredible and storied run of becoming one of the few men to earn the title back-to-back (in 1992 and 1993) after becoming a runner-up in 1991 as a sophomore.

After his collegiate career, Randleman moved into the world of mixed martial arts, where he first came into prominence in the UFC and became the undisputed champion in just his third bout with the organization.

In his career, Randleman holds notable victories over the likes of former champion Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral and former Pride great Mirko Cro Cop.

Phil Davis

One of the more promising stars in the mixed martial arts world, Phil Davis first built his star on the foundation built as a collegiate wrestler.

He began that career at Penn State, finishing fifth at the NCAA Division I championships in 2007. Davis would later earn the prestigious title in 2008 as a senior, graduating as a four-time All-American while compiling an overall 116-17 record.

Since then, Davis has gone on a tear as a professional mixed martial artist. Davis went on a 4-0 run is less than one year's time before being called up to the UFC, where he defeated former WEC champ Brian Stann in his debut.

Since then, Davis remains undefeated and has gone 5-0 inside the Octagon, with his last bout earning him top-10 status after defeating former Pride star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

Shane Carwin

The powerhouse in Shane Carwin first built his base as a collegiate wrestler.

Carwin attended Western State College in 1996, where he became the NCAA Division II runner-up both in 1996 and 1997. Eventually, Carwin earned the NCAA Division II heavyweight national championship in 1999 and later became a volunteer coach for the University of North Colorado.

It was in that area where Carwin linked up with the Grudge Training Center, headed by top trainer Trevor Wittman. Since then, Carwin has earned world recognition, beginning his career with an 8-0 start before making his way to the UFC.

There, Carwin has earned knockout victories over the likes of Christian Wellisch, former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and former champ Frank Mir"the latter of which earned Carwin the interim title in the process.

Matt Hamill

Though Hamill competed on the Division III circuit in his amateur wrestling career, he deserves recognition nonetheless since he accomplished much while being deaf.

Hamill attended Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996. In 1997, 1998 and 1999, Hamill earned the NCAA Division III championship, competing at 167, 190 and 197 pounds, respectively.

Invited to the 2001 Summer Deaflympics, Hamill won a silver medal in Greco-Roman and gold as a freestyle wrestler.

Hamill then transitioned his skills to the mixed marital arts scene, where Hamill joined the UFC on the heels of his stint on The Ultimate Fighter on Season 3. Hamill became a top contender in the 205-pound class, where he earned impressive victories over Keith Jardine, top contender Mark Munoz and former champion Tito Ortiz.

Mark Coleman

Former UFC champ Mark Coleman, much like all successful heavyweight hopefuls, built his career on his collegiate career as a wrestler.

Beginning wrestling as a teen, Coleman attended Miami University in Ohio, where became the two-time Mid-American Conference champion. In his final year, Coleman transferred to the prestigious Ohio State, where he won the NCAA Division I title and clinched his spot as an All-American athlete.

Coleman earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, placing second at the FILA Wrestling World Championships and seventh overall at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Coleman would later be labeled as the "godfather of ground-and-pound, "when he transitioned to the MMA scene, winning the UFC 10 Tournament in his debut as a pro in 1996.

Coleman would win the subsequent tournament before becoming the organization's first heavyweight champion by besting Dan Severn with a first-round submission. A subsequent Grand Prix title in the Pride organization built Coleman's star, where he was eventually inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Munoz

On paper, Mark Munoz could very well be the best wrestler to ever enter the UFC.

Attending Vallejo High School, Munoz earned the California State Wrestling Championship twice at 189 pounds and the 1996 NHSCA national high school championship as well.

Munoz was later scouted and recruited by Oklahoma State University after having been one of the most-sought-after wrestlers in the country. Munoz earned two Big 12 titles while taking home the prestigious NCAA Division I title in his senior year.

Munoz also took his skills into international waters when he earned the silver medal at the FILA Junior World Wrestling Championships in 1998.

Since then, Munoz has become of the fast rising contenders in the middleweight division in the UFC, having bested the likes of Kendall Grove, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway and most recently Demian Maia, besting the former title challenger by decision.

Tyron Woodley

Current Strikeforce phenom Tyron Woodley came from humbling backgrounds as a youth.

Born 11th of 13, Woodley grew up in Ferguson, Missouri. When he was at McCluer High School, Woodley was a natural athlete, becoming a two-time state wrestling finalist before earning his first official title as a senior when he totaled a 48-0 record.

Woodley attended the University of Missouri, alongside Ben Askren, where he earned NCAA Division I honors and All-American stature. He became team captain from 2003-2005, earning the Big 12 title in 2003 before becoming runner-up in 2005.

Since then, Woodley has been coveted as one of the top prospects in MMA. Woodley is undefeated as a pro, holding notable victories over the likes of Andre Galvao, Tarec Saffiedine and former UFC contender and Strikeforce title challenger Paul Daley.

Mo Lawal

An international success in every sense of the word, "King "Mo first took to the MMA scene on the heels of a very extensive wrestling career that extended past his collegiate efforts.

Growing up in Texas, Lawal became a two-time high school state runner-up in 1997 and 1998 before taking the title in 1999 at the Texas state championships.

Lawal attended the University of Central Oklahoma, where he competed for three years in the Division II circuit, becoming the 2001 runner-up before taking the NCAA Division II title in 2002. He later earned the Big 12 title in 2003 before moving up to Division I.

Lawal took third before he went on to the international circuit, where he earned a litany of titles and totaled well over 20 medals and/or titles. Once an Olympic hopeful, Lawal transitioned to the world of mixed martial arts in 2008.

Lawal took a big splash in his MMA career when he defeated UFC veteran Travius Wiuff in his debut, knocking out the touted heavyweight in a little over two minutes. Eventually, Lawal became the Strikeforce 205-pound champion when he defeated Gegard Mousasi by decision.

Cole Konrad

A successful collegiate wrestler-turned-world champion"this story sounds familiar.

Cole Konrad began his career as an accomplished wrestling standout at Freedom High School, compiling an overall 101-15 record winning the Wisconsin state championship in 2002. Konrad entered the Junior National Championships, earning titles in both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling.

Konrad attended University of Minnesota, where as a junior, Konrad went undefeated, eventually parlaying his success to the NCAA Division I championship. Konrad again repeated the amazing feat as a senior, going undefeated again and taking the prestigious title in 2007.

At the Pan American Games in 2005, Konrad won the freestyle wrestling title in the 120 kg division.

Since then, "The Polar Bear "has become a hot MMA prospect. He has found lots of success as a pro, earning the Bellator heavyweight championship after defeating a bevy of opponents in the organization's first tournament.

Victories over Damian Grabowski and UFC veterans Neil Grove and former title challenger Paul Buentello anchor his list of accolades.

Don Frye

MMA great Don Frye has become one of the more notable fixtures in all of the sport, thanks to his moustache, persona and overall fighting skills that rely on his wrestling background.

Frye attended Buena High School in Sierra Vista, where he first found wrestling, and attended the prestigious Arizona State University, where fighters such as Cain Velasquez, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson have all called home at one point.

Frye won three Pac-10 titles in college, earning Division I All-American honors for his efforts which he later parlayed into Olympic run. In 1987, Frye won both the freestyle and Greco-Roman events during the Olympic qualifier, where in his senior year he finished out his career at Oklahoma State.

Since then, Frye has been recognized as a pioneer in MMA, winning the UFC 8 tournament upon his mixed martial arts debut and the heavyweight tourney in December of 1996. For some time, Frye held the record for fastest knockout in the UFC after he finished Thomas Ramirez with a KO punch in just eight seconds.

Jon Fitch

Despite convincing himself that he is not an athlete but a tireless worker, Fitch does come from a competitive background as a wrestler.

Attending Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fitch wrestled at Purdue University as a walk-on. Fitch wrestled while under the watchful eye of mixed martial arts icon Tom Erikson.

A four-year letterman, Fitch became team captain of the Boilermakers, compiling an overall 97-12 record and earning NCAA Division I honors.

Though he went relatively unaccomplished as a collegiate athlete, Fitch has since become one of the more notable figures in mixed martial arts. He is considered universally as the consensus No. 2 fighter in the welterweight division.

Fitch has compiled an overall 13-1-1 record inside the Octagon and holds notable victories over the likes of Thiago Alves (twice), Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago, while having challenged for a world title against current champion Georges St-Pierre, turning in a "Fight of the Night "worthy performance in defeat.

Johny Hendricks

Hendricks attended the highly touted Oklahoma State University on the heels of a long and accomplished wrestling career in high school, where he earned three Oklahoma state titles whilst competing for Edmond Memorial High School.

In 2005 and 2006, Hendricks took home the NCAA Division I title, wrestling then at 165 pounds.

Hendricks finished second in 2007, making him a four-time All-American at the university, polishing off his career with three Big 12 titles before making his way to the world of mixed martial arts.

Since entering the Zuffa fold, Hendricks has gone 8-1 under both the WEC and UFC banners. He holds an overall 11-1 record, and his lone defeat comes at the hands of contender Rick Story.

Hendricks holds impressive wins over The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah and Charlie Brenneman"knocking out both men before the final bell.

Jake Rosholt

UFC veteran Jake Rosholt remains as accomplished as they come on the collegiate scene.

Beginning his career at Sandpoint High School, Rosholt would win three Idaho state titles and the national title in 2001 at 189 pounds.

Rosholt attended Oklahoma State University, where he won the NCAA Division I title in his freshman year, a feat that is rare.

Rosholt again claimed NCAA fame again in 2005 and 2006, earning All-American honors all four years of college while making him a legend in the wrestling scene. He's one of only a few men to earn three NCAA titles.

Following his accomplished collegiate career, Rosholt moved to the world of MMA, where he went uncontested in his five outings. He entered the UFC on the heels of his brief stint in the now-defunct WEC promotion.

In the organization, he picked up a convincing victory over perennial contender Chris Leben, submitting the heavy hitter with a third round arm-triangle choke.

Brock Lesnar

When Brock Lesnar was born in Webster, South Dakota, a star was born.

Lesnar picked up the wrestling bug at an early age when he attended Webster High School, securing a 33-0 record in his senior year.

Lesnar attended the University of Minnesota on scholarship, where he would take second place at the NCAA Division I championships. Lesnar vindicated himself in 2000 when he took the title, earning All-American honors in his final two years at the university.

In his four years as a collegiate wrestler, Lesnar compiled an astounding 106-5 record overall.

Though a stint as a WWE star soon followed, Lesnar eventually made his way to mixed marital arts, where he joined the UFC in February of 2008. In just his second professional bout, Lesnar took on former world champion Frank Mir, besting him early before succumbing to submission.

Eventually, Lesnar earned the heavyweight title when he defeated UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and later avenged his defeat to Mir by successfully defending his title, TKO'ing the jiu-jitsu expert on second-round strikes.

A victory over Shane Carwin followed, legitimizing Lesnar's place a world-ranked MMA fighter.

Wrestling official Ross Thomas inducted into AAU Wrestling Hall of Fame

August 26th, 2011 by Tom

SMYRNA, Del. "

Smyrna High grad recognized for years of service as a top referee

Serving as a referee can often be like the Rodney Dangerfield of jobs -- no respect. But Ross Thomas of Smyrna recently received the ultimate recognition for his work as a referee when he was inducted into the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Thomas attended the induction ceremony June 25 in Orlando, Florida.

"I was really honored," he said. "There are a lot of big-time guys in the Hall of Fame -- wrestlers, coaches. It's a pretty neat honor. The head official for the AAU is the one who nominated me, Dave Bennetts of Butte, Montana. He worked with me at a lot of AAU tournaments."

Thomas' "day job" is teaching accounting and business education at Polytech near Woodside, where he just finished his 17th year.

His career as a wrestling official, though, spans 30 years, dating back to when he was in college. Thomas was recognized by the Amateur Athletic Union for working about 15 of those years at AAU events such as the Disney Duals and three AAU national tournaments in Detroit, Tulsa, and Des Moines. He was supervisor of officials at the Disney Duals this year and in 2009.

He's served as a referee at all levels of amateur wrestling, including college, high school, and youth tournaments.

"I worked a full college schedule, all over the country," he said.

He was selected to officiate the NCAA Wrestling Tournament four times from 2007 to 2010, the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament five times, and the Big Ten Conference Tournament once.

Thomas is also well known in Delaware high school wrestling circles. He served as a referee for the Beast of the East Tournament in Newark for 17 years including 10 years as head official, and he's officiated at 15 state tournaments.

Now, he's hanging up his whistle.

"I'm not going on the mat anymore," he said. "I took an assigner's job, sending officials out for three conferences: the ACC, the Southern Conference, and the Colonial Athletic Association."

He plans to stay involved in high school wrestling, serving on the Delaware Wrestling Alliance, the committee in charge of Beast of East Tournament that also awards scholarships to wrestlers.

Wrestling for Smyrna High

Thomas wrestled on the varsity team all four years at Smyrna High School, winning two Henlopen Conference titles and placing third in the state tournament in his senior year, 1980.

Ron Eby was the coach of the team during Thomas' freshman year.

"When I went from junior high to high school, I was in awe, because Mr. Eby was a legend," said Thomas. "It's neat to work with him now. We're on the Delaware Wrestling Alliance together now, so I still see him a lot."

"He always pushed the basics, being fundamentally sound," said Thomas. "That's what I remember -- nothing fancy, just solid, fundamental wrestling."

Buddy Lloyd took over as coach when Thomas was a sophomore.

"It was a different relationship because Buddy was so young. I think he was under 30. He'd wrestle us in practice. We'd compete with him, and we knew he had been a state champion," said Thomas.

He fondly remembers his years wrestling at Smyrna High.

"It was just amazing the amount of support we received. I mean, the whole town would show up for the CR and Sussex Central matches. That was fun. You lived for that stuff," he said. "A lot of people would support you at different tournaments far away in the summer, too. The whole town had a hand in it."

High praise from former coach

His former coach, Ron Eby, has followed Thomas' career as an official from the beginning.

"He's excellent. He does a tremendous job," said Eby. "Officials are always criticized, but he's the least-criticized official I've ever seen. He did so well in Delaware, and then he branched out and traveled all over the country weekend after weekend in order to build his credentials. Then he was nominated for the NCAA tournament finals which is the ultimate in wrestling officiating. He's exceptionally good. I don't think I've ever seen an official better at any level than Ross."

As for the AAU Hall of Fame induction, Eby said, "People in Delaware who know wrestling have seen how good he is, and to be selected for the NCAA tournament is tremendous. Now someone else is recognizing him at another level -- the AAU Hall of Fame -- that's some accomplishment."

Eby remembers that at Smyrna High School, he was glad to see Thomas that first day of practice his freshman year.

"He was a big, strong young man that we needed. We never had upper weights," said Eby. "He was a very successful wrestler, and continued to be when Buddy (Lloyd) coached him."

Eby went to the NCAA tournament several times and saw Thomas officiate.

"Of course I may be biased, but I always thought he was in the best 10 and the best 10 are selected for the finals," said Eby. "I remember one year, he was pictured in a big spread in a local newspaper where they were holding the tournament, and we were all so proud of him."

Now, Eby works with Thomas on the Delaware Wrestling Alliance.

"Ross volunteers an awful lot," Eby said. "He gets all the officials for Beast of the East tournament and he's served as treasurer of DWA for many years."

College career included his start as an official

Thomas wrestled at Virginia Tech his first two years in college and finished at Delaware State University.

"I got one match away from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament," he said. "That was tough."

He started refereeing high school junior varsity matches while he was still in college.

"I can remember all my college teammates at Del State used to come heckle me when I was refereeing," he laughed.

Thomas continued in the sport while serving in the U.S. Marines, wrestling on the All-Marine team for two years. Then, when he became a teacher at Polytech High School, he coached the Panthers wrestling team for three years.

Q&A with Ross Thomas

Q Why did you want to become a referee?

A It's a way to stay in the sport. Wrestling's a young man's sport. By the time you're 25, you've exhausted all your competitive opportunities. It's probably the most involved you can be in any sport as an official. You can do a lot to prevent injuries. One of the best compliments I received was from parents who told me they always thought their kid was safe out there when I was officiating.

Q What have been the highlights of your career as an official?

A Getting selected for the NCAA tournament because that's the top 20 referees in the country. I set a goal of being the first from Delaware to be selected for the NCAAs. No one's done that before. I'd also say the Big 10 tournament because that's the premier conference in the country for wrestling, and they only use eight referees. Some say that's harder than being selected for the NCAA tournament.

Q What was the most challenging part on the mat?

A When I was doing the big stuff, the NCAA tournament or the conference tournaments, there was a lot of pressure. You're on TV wearing a microphone, and you've got to watch what you say. In my first NCAA finals, I actually said a cuss word, broadcast live on ESPN. It was because one of the wrestlers was doing a dangerous move. It wasn't too big of a deal. I got scolded a bit, but I was trying to keep a guy from getting hurt."

Q How did you balance your teaching career with your work as a referee?

A I had to burn a few personal days to do that. But a lot of the Big 10 matches are Fridays to Sundays. I did a ton of running to the airport Fridays, then back on Sunday night on the red eye. The travel is the real grind of it.

Q What's the biggest change you've seen in high school wrestling?

A There's so much more knowledge out there now. If you were just a tough kid and started wrestling as a freshman, you could be pretty good by the time you were a senior. Now, everyone starts when they're six years old and they know a lot more by the time they get to high school.

Q What's been the biggest change at the college level?

A The number of colleges that have cut their wrestling program. That's a major concern. I think Division I is down to 83 or 84 programs. It's been more than cut in half over 30 years. When I wrestled, the SEC was big -- Alabama, Auburn, LSU all had it. Now it's all gone. In the ACC, only six out of 12 schools have it. That means there aren't as many opportunities for high school students to go on to compete at the college level.

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