CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Nick Becker made history for the UW-Parkside wrestling team Saturday night in the NCAA Division II Championships.
The redshirt senior, a native of Hartford, Wis., became the first wrestler in Parkside history to win three NCAA Championships. The top-seeded Becker defeated No. 2 Nolan Kistler of California Baptist in an 8-4 decision in the championship match at 174 pounds while battling a bloody nose throughout the final match. Becker closed out his career as a Ranger with an 89-0 record.
Becker, whose brothers Craig and Brad also won national championships at Parkside, joined a long list of national champions in Ranger history. Bill West, who won national titles in 1974 & 1975, is the other Ranger with multiple national championships.
As a team, the Rangers would have finished with 74 points, which would have been good for third place behind St. Cloud State (92.5) and Notre Dame (84). Due to conference sanctions, Parkside is ineligible to place in the team standings.
Along with Becker, four other wrestlers earned All-American honors. Frank Yattoni IV suffered an early loss on Saturday, but the senior battled back and earned two straight wins en route to a third-place finish at 149 pounds. He defeated Upper Iowa’s Damian Penichet by major decision in the third-place match.
Senior Matt Halverson also battled back from an early loss on Saturday to finish in third place after entering the tournament as the No. 11-ranked wrestler at 285. After the loss, Halverson pinned Mitchell Eull of Minot State in just 1:33 before pinning Cody Johnson of CSU-Pueblo in the third place match.
Airk Furseth finished in sixth place after going 2-0 on Friday at 133 pounds. The sophomore suffered three straight losses on Saturday but ended his season with a 32-8 record and an NCAA Regional Championship.
James Lehman went 0-2 on the day but finished in eighth place to earn All-American honors at 197 pounds. The redshirt junior finished the season 30-11 and was the only Ranger who was unranked in his weight class coming into nationals.