March 14, 2022 at 11:15am
Dane Lisser

Birt wins first NCAA Wrestling Championship in School History

Millikin University senior Bradan Birt, of Epworth, Iowa, won the first NCAA Wrestling Championship in school history taking first place in the 165-pound weight class at the 2022 NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on March 11-12.

Junior Tommy Russell, of Brookfield, Ill., finished his run in the tournament in eighth place earning All-American honors. The Big Blue finished ninth in the team standings.

Birt, a sports management major, won the Championship Match by major decision 14-2 over third-seeded Kyle Hatch of Wabash College. Birt finished the season 42-0 and ended his Big Blue career with a 70-match winning streak dating back to 2019. Birt has a career record of 159-13.

Birt, who was the 2021 NWCA Division III Championships National Champion, becomes the fourth individual in Millikin history to win an individual NCAA Championship joining swimmers Rodney Miller (six events over three years) and Scott Walker, and track sprinter Carl Alexander.

Birt's historic career includes being a five-time All-American and a five-time College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Individual Champion. Birt was named CCIW Most Outstanding Wrestler three times. He was a 2021 CoSIDA Academic All-America® At-Large Second Team honoree. Birt is the Millikin record holder for best season in school history at 42-0 and most wins and best winning percentage in a career (.924). Birt continues a family tradition as Bradan's dad and head coach Ryan Birt was an NCAA Wrestling National Champion in 1999.

Birt was also presented the NWCA Most Outstanding Wrestler Award for the Championships and the NCAA Most Dominant Wrestler Award for the 2022 season.

On March 12, Birt won his semifinal match 5-1 over fifth-seeded Matt Lackman of Alvernia.

On March 11, Birt won his preliminary match over Alex Turley of Averett by Fall at 2:54. Birt advanced to the quarterfinals with a win by fall at 6:42 over Daniel Leightner of Baldwin Wallace. Birt advanced to the semifinals on March 12 with this third win by fall this time over eighth-seeded Patrick McGraw of John Carroll.

Tommy Russell, a business management major, opened his tournament with a win by fall at 1:21 over Terry Adams of Ursinus in a preliminary match. Russell then lost by fall to sixth-seeded Arborio of Western New England. Russell scored two wins in consolation round matches on March 11. He defeated Joey Lamparelli of Muhlenberg 4-2 and stayed alive with an 8-5 win over Matt Caccamise of the College at Brockport 8-5.      


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