Senior Nick Allen finishes the 2014-2015 seasons with a trip to the NCAA Division III championships. Wrestlers don’t simply find themselves on the mat at the national championships, there is a long road leading to that point. Only the top three wrestlers in each bracket, at the regional competition, earn a place at the national championship, and Allen earned his spot by placing third in the 174 pound bracket.
Allen’s teammates attribute his success to consistent hard work. Junior Jason Kibiloski said, “Nick has strong discipline, on, and off the mat. He works hard in practice, eats a good diet, and gives time to study… I mean, he’s an Academic All American.”
This discipline is something that Allen attributes to his team and coaches. “The best part of being at nationals was being able to represent the team, because I didn’t feel like it was just my work that got me there, but the hard work of my coaches and teammates.”
When asked which lessons helped place him at nationals, Allen said, “[I learned] that it’s not all about what you do at practice. It’s about being able to motivate yourself when no one else is there.”
Allen bowed out of a meet on March 13, after two losses. One loss was a 9-7 loss in overtime, and the other an 11-1 loss against Kyle Diesel. According to the official Olivet College Web page, “Allen finishes the season with a 20-10 record. He ends his four-year career in a Comet uniform with 85 wins, with 24 pins.”
Although Allen was the only Comet to wrestle at the national championship, a few other wrestlers placed in the region. According to the official Olivet College Athletic Web site, “senior Matt Darling at 133 pounds, Senior Kyle Witgen at 149 pounds, Sophomore Rodney Harvey at 184 pounds, Junior Thomas Hall at 197 pounds and Sophomore Jesse Judge at 285 pounds – all finish in sixth-place.”
The Comet wrestling team ended the season with an 8-12 record. This was not the season of victories the team had hoped for, but, as wrestling coach Brandon Brissette said, “… it was a growing year.” The difficulties were attributed to a single decision. “Before the season began,” said Brissette, “we were unsure of 50-60 percent of our starting line-up.” The wrestling coaches had two options - move down to a less competitive schedule to give the new wrestlers a learning curve, or “maintain the same level of high performance that Olivet wrestling is known for, and pull the young team to that level,” Brissette said.
In the end, the Comets maintained a rigorous schedule, wresting the best Division III schools in the nation, as well as several Division I and II schools. Brissette said they stuck to their best and it gave the experience to be competitive at that high level for years to come.
All photos by Geoff Henson