Wrestling heads to NCWA National Duals in Georgia
Team hopes to improve upon fifth-place finish in same meet last season
The Grand Valley State University wrestling team is headed to the National Collegiate Wrestling Association National Duals Championships, one of its biggest meets of the year, this weekend at Georgia Southern University in Dalton, Ga. The team features six returning All-Americans and also boasts a large selection of new faces. Last year as a team, GVSU finished No. 4 in the NCWA National Championships and No. 5 in the NCWA National Duals.
GVSU head coach Rick Bolhuis, in his fifth year with the Lakers, said he realizes the stakes are high coming into this year and acknowledged what has been done to start meeting their goals.
“We are part of a program that has been able to win championships,” Bolhuis said. “We know this meet is a good test for us and by the end of the weekend, we hope to see continuous improvement. We want to see how much better we can make ourselves.”
Senior Corey Melinn, an All-American in the heavyweight class his freshman and sophomore year, said he is looking for a strong turnaround from a disappointing season as a junior.
“For me, last season was a bit of a disappointment,” he said. “I let a lot of talk about how I have the ability to win a national title really get to me and affect how I wrestled. I did a lot of training this off-season just to become a better athlete and did some speed training to become quicker.”
The NCWA National Duals are a sort of catapult for teams into the rest of the season, as it gives them a sense of where they are at against some of the top competition around the country.
Bolhuis said he realizes how tough the competition is his team will face this weekend.
“There is the Apprentice School out of Virginia, and the University of Central Florida who won last year’s national title,” he said. “Also, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville who finished third last year at nationals and is in the process of transitioning from a Division II to Division I program will be competing in our division. It will be an awesome challenge to prove to ourselves against a DI team that is competing against Big 10 and Big 12 colleges that we can wrestle with them.”
Junior Carl Worthy, an All-American and wrestler in the 235-pound weight class, has waited until this meet to wrestle this season because of the limited competition in his class.
“My weight class only happens in the NCWA season, which is just starting with our meet this weekend, so I haven’t wrestled competitively much,” he said. “This dual meet will be a good showing for me with good competition because if you win, everyone is looking at you to win an individual championship. And if your team wins, they look at you to win a team title.”
With a tough weekend ahead, the entire workload can’t be placed on the backs of two All-American upperclassmen. Melinn has seen the potential in upcoming freshman and believes this is the meet where some make a name for themselves.
“I think our freshman in the 125 (pound) weight class, Andy Brown, and in the 133 (pound) weight class, Matt Morrill, are primed to have a big weekend,” Melinn said. “We need them to have a solid weekend. They have figured out the college wrestling scene and they just have to be as tough as they are now for the rest of the season.”