Fri, Jul. 20, 2012 - [WPU]
With the envelope in hand and the drums rolling, the top overall story from 2011-2012 is…wrestler Eric Burgey winning the school's first title in nearly a decade.
A fifth-place finisher in his first collegiate season, the sophomore entered this past winter as the top-ranked grappler in the 149-pound weight class and, outside of a hiccup near the end of the season, went wire-to-wire for the championship.
Burgey won his first 12 matches in an injury-plagued season, but was unable to keep his record unblemished as he fell in the Central Qualifying Group Tournament. Literally adding injury to insult, he hurt his ribs in the loss and left that day doubtful for nationals.
His next two weeks were void of any contact as he tried to nurse himself back to as close to 100% as possible.
Though still feeling the lingering effects of the injury, he stepped onto the mat in Des Moines and quickly returned to the top of the 149-pound title discussion with a fall over the #2 wrestler in the nation. He then picked off #7 before defeating #10 to reach the semis. A 4-1 decision over #1 TJ Moen of Grand View put the sophomore in the finals.
His 19th and final win came as a 5-3 decision over #4 Jimmy Eggemyer of Southern Oregon to claim the school's first national crown in any sport since 2002-2003. It was also William Penn's fourth wrestling title.
"This is just a great feeling," Burgey said after the win. "I had a lot of support from so many people this week and that meant a lot. I had not wrestled at all since my injury, only doing some conditioning, but everyone believed in me and that carried me through."
Freshman Carey Cloud gave William Penn two All-Americans at 149 pounds with an eighth-place finish.