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Mike Williams wins National Title

By Nick Phillips
Editor

March 15, 2012


development
Photo illustration by Nick Phillips
UNCP wrestler Mike Williams won the National Championship in the 165-pound weight class at the NCAA National Championships on March 10. The title was the Braves' first-ever wrestling national championship and the first in any sport in 30 years.

UNCP junior wrestler Mike Williams reached the pinnacle in collegiate sports on March 10, winning the NCAA National Championship in his 165-pound weight class in Pueblo, Colo.

The championship was the first-ever for the UNCP wrestling program and the first national championship of any kind for the Braves' athletic programs in 30 years.

Former track and field standout Garry Henry secured the last UNCP national honor when he grabbed the title in the 10,000-meter run at the 1982 national championships.

Williams also clinched also helping give UNCP an eighth-place finish in the final team standings at the NCAA Championships. weight class. Both Ownbey and his third-straight All-American honor for his efforts.

Williams finshed a perfect 4-0 in the tournament and capped his season by booking 5-2 decision victory in the national championship match against Findlay's Mason True for his individual honor, while also helping give UNCP an eighth-place finish in the final team standings at the NCAA Championships.

Two other Braves wrestlers competed in the National Tournament, with freshman Daniel Ownbey finshing third in the 141- pound weight class and senior Shane Nolan finshing sixth in the 197-pound weight class.

Both Ownbey and Nolan recieved their first All-American honors as well.

Williams now has a 74-9 career record and will carryover a 33-match winning streak into his senior year.

They say winning isn't everything, but everyone knows that feeling they had when they are victorious in anything big or small.

Now think about if your victory was on a national level.

Welcome to Mike Williams' happy world.

The UNCP junior won the NCAA National Championship in the 165-pound weight class on March 10, the first-ever national title in wrestling program history and the school's first overall in 30 years.

Of course, none of those thoughts came flooding into Williams' initial thoughts after he defeated Findlay's Mason True in the title match.

"It definitely took a while to sink in. I was in shock for about 10 minutes," Williams said.

"It started sinking in on the plane ride back to North Carolina," he added.

Just because it took a little while for Williams to comprehend what had happened doesn't mean he doesn't understand the feeling.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," he said.

"I've worked hard for a National title, put in the time and it has paid off. To be in that elite group of National Champions, no one could ever take that away."

As far as being the first national champion in the rich and storied history of the UNCP wrestling program, Williams hopes he is only the first of what will be many more champions in the future.

"I hope to see many more national champs after me but the first will always be significant in history. I always tell guys I may not be the best wrestler in UNCP history, technically, but I'm the best competitor," Williams said.

"Being a competitor and having the will to win every time I step on the mat is what has allowed me to be successful in my career."

That competitive spirit won't take too much time off, as Williams says he will rest for a week or so and then get right back to training.
development
Photo illustration by Nick Phillips
UNCP wrestler Mike Williams won the National Championship in the 165-pound weight class at the NCAA National Championships on March 10. The title was the Braves' first-ever wrestling national championship and the first in any sport in 30 years.
The three-time All-American will be going right into freestyle wrestling and doing some big tournaments before, hopefully, traveling to the Olympic Training Center this summer to further hone his skills.

Williams said there is a clear difference between being an All-American and being a National Champion.

"Being an All-American was a great accomplishment as well, but I think every competitor wants to be on top of the podium. To be able to get the job done and seal the deal is what separates greats from legends."

After winning the National Championship as a junior, it would be easy for Williams to set a goal to become a back-to-back champion for his senior campaign, but he isn't looking there, yet.

"As far as an encore I'm more so focused on improving my skill set and elevating my wrestling rather than a specific tournament, because that's all nationals is; it's just another tournament," he said.

"If you train one way all the time, then you'll compete one way; that's my philosophy."

With his name now etched into the UNCP record books, Williams has a message to everyone that extends past the wrestling mat and into the game of life.

"You have to train to be the best you can be, so that the only person that can beat you is you," he said.

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