February 12, 2016 at 10:30am

Millikin wrestling takes center stage

Millikin Wrestling

Millikin University's wrestling team took center stage for a dual meet against Cornell College on Feb. 11 at Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Millikin's campus.

In addition to a great NCAA Division III wrestling match, the evening included a speech by wrestling icon Dan Gable and music by Millikin's acclaimed Chamber Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Brian Justison, Millikin professor of music. Millikin lost to #15 Cornell College 24-22.

"It was an opportunity we wanted to give our student-athletes in our first year back again, trying to promote our sport and make it great," Millikin Head Wrestling Coach Ryan Birt said. "Hopefully that's what we're doing, encouraging more kids to want to come be a part of this."

Millikin Wrestling

Dan Gable's accomplishments both as a wrestler and a coach are legendary. During his high school and collegiate wrestling careers he had a record of 181-1. He wrestled collegiately at Iowa State University where he went 117-1 with his only defeat coming in the NCAA finals his senior year. Gable was a two time NCAA National Wrestling Champion and three-time All-American and three-time Big Eight champion. He set NCAA records in winning and pin streaks. After college, he continued his wrestling success on a world stage including winning a Gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Gable was the head coach of the University of Iowa's wrestling program from 1976-1997 and was Iowa's all-time winningest coach. Gable led Iowa to 15 NCAA National Wrestling Team Titles while compiling a career record of 355-21-5. Gable coached many United States teams in International Freestyle competition. He is a three-time Olympic head coach (1980, 1984 and 2000).

During the match, the Big Blue mounted a strong comeback in the final four divisions with Millikin's Stephan Birt and Keajion Jennings posting back-to-back wins by fall. Birt improved to 14-4 on the season defeating Ben Hewson at 3:56 at 174 pounds. Jennings pin came at 184 when he defeated Joseph Keller at 4:33.

Millikin Wrestling

Millikin then picked up a decision at 197 with Myron Hamilton defeating Benjamin Bergen. Hamilton is now 14-4 on the season. At 285, Millikin's James Buss remained undefeated downing Eric Tucker in a major decision 12-2.

Millikin goes to 9-6 on the season while Cornell improves to 11-7. Millikin's next test comes at the CCIW Championships on Feb. 18 at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

Millikin Wrestling

The Millikin wrestling team has made a triumphant return to competition this season as the Big Blue program took to the mats for the first time since 2008. Millikin has had several outstanding individual and team performances earning them national attention. As of mid-January, the Millikin team had earned a spot in the D3wrestle.com Top 30 national rankings and five Big Blue wrestlers had fought their way to individual national rankings.

Click here to read more about the wrestling event in an article from the Herald & Review.