All-American wrestler Mike Williams won a NCAA national championship in the 165-pound weight class on Saturday, March 10. He is UNC Pembroke’s first national champion in wrestling, and it is the university’s first national championship in any sport since 1982.
Williams defeated the University of Findlay’s Mason True 5-2 in the finals to help give UNCP an eighth-place finish in the team standings at the NCAA Division II National Championships.
The university won its last national championship when track & field standout Garry Henry won the 10,000-meter run at the 1982 national championships. In 1978, UNCP won a team cross-country championship.
Redshirt freshman Daniel Ownbey completed his four-win run through the consolation bracket at 141 pounds with three victories over nationally-ranked opponents en route to third place. Shane Nolan, who posted two wins on Friday to reach the semifinals at 197 pounds, finished the tournament with a 2-3 record and sixth-place.
The performance by the trio gave the Braves 42.5 team points and tie for eighth with eighth-ranked Adams State College. Forty-two teams were entered. It is the best finish for a UNCP wrestling team since the 2004-05 squad finished seventh.
Williams earned a takedown in the first period to take an early lead over True, and then he scored two more points on a reversal in the second period. He stretched his lead out to 5-1 with an escape in the third period, but yielded a stalling point for the final score.
Williams got into the championship bout with a victory over fourth-ranked Joey Wilson of the University of Nebraska at Kearney in Saturday afternoon’s semifinals. Williams scored a first period takedown to take a 2-0 lead into the second period and dominated Wilson for the second period to build a comfortable lead. Williams surrendered only a point for stalling in the final stanza.
Ownbey, who clinched his first All-American honors on Friday, began his day with a 7-5 overtime decision over fifth-ranked Tywan Claxton of King’s College and then earned his spot in the third place match with a 9-7 decision over second-ranked Trevor Johnson of the University of Mary (N.D.). Ownbey completed his four-win run through the consolation bracket with a close 3-2 victory over third-ranked Chism Fink of Augustana College (S.D.) for a third-place finish.
Nolan, who also collected his first All-American honors with a win in each session on Friday, dropped his quarterfinal match with top-ranked Dan Scanlan of Limestone College by a 17-0 technical fall and then suffered a 5-4 overtime loss to seventh-ranked Ed Ebewo of East Stroudsburg University. Nolan wrapped up his trip to the national championships with a 13-0 loss by major decision to sixth-ranked Charles Morgan from King College in the fifth-place matchup.