Dalton, GA—The MMI wrestlers participated in the National College Wrestling Association (NCWA) National Duals at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center on Friday, January 22nd and Saturday, January 23rd. Sprinkled throughout the 24-team field were a number of former champions, including repeat and defending champion Liberty University (2012 and 2015), Marion Military Institute (2010), and Grand Valley State University (2009). Despite several shoulder injuries to key players (Nick Villamil at 133 pounds and Trevor Parker at 197 pounds), the MMI Tigers finished a respectable 14th.
"Considering the injuries, our team performed well," said two-time Olympic wrestler and MMI head wrestling coach Jim Hazewinkel.
The Tigers compiled a 2-4 record during the two-day tournament. They nipped Ohio State's wrestling club, 28-26, on Friday and defeated Temple University (PA), 35-30, on Saturday. Their losses came at the hands of The Apprentice School (VA), the tournament's No. 4 seed; Emmanuel College (GA), the tournament's No. 6-seeded team and the NCWA's No. 2-ranked team in the power poll; Middle Tennessee State University; and Florida Gulf Coast University.
MMI's sophomore co-captain and 174-pound wrestler BJ Thomas (Tallassee, AL) competed at an extremely high level, finishing with a 5-1 record.
"He [Thomas] leads the team well, he's tough, and he does a good job," Hazewinkel said.
Next up for the Tiger wrestlers is a Tri-Meet event at Auburn University on Friday, January 29th.