the thoughts and writings of an independent sports fanatic and supporter of Mercer University Athletics - J. Andrew Lockwood

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wrestling Team Finishes 23rd in Nation

- J. Andrew Lockwood -
Senior Editor of The Bear Zone/ Sports Columnist

Mercer’s wrestling program has never been this strong.  A 23rd place finish at the NCWA 2009 National Championships in Hampton, Virginia over spring break solidified their spot as a national contender in wrestling.  Not to mention Mercer’s first wrestling All-American, Jerod Northcott.  The baseball player-turned-wrestler has dominated competition all year long, finishing with just four losses on the year, good enough for sixth in the nation in the 184 lb class.

            “I was extremely proud of how our team performed.  We had only one returning national qualifier and three new wrestlers with us,” said head coach Kevin Andres.  He added, “This was the toughest competition I’ve ever seen at a wrestling tournament and to finish in the Top 25 says a lot.  The women’s program finished 5th in the nation [out of the 18 teams], not bad for a first year program.”

            The accomplishments of Northcott symbolize the direction the program has taken during the past year under the leadership and direction of Andres.  “Jerod had a great tournament.  He hurt his thumb in the quarter-finals, but he continued to fight.  You couldn’t ask any more of him,” commented Andres.

Additionally, all three women wrestlers that competed in the national tournament placed in the top five, gaining All-American status as well in their first collegiate tournament.  KaLia Burnette (139 lb), Brandi Rearden (148 lb), and Erin Patterson (176 lb) all made the trip up to Virginia placing in 4th, 3rd, and 2nd respectively. 

            The Bears continued to make their presence felt in the newly formed National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA), an organization which includes 130 colleges and universities across the United States.  At this year’s national championships, 84 teams qualified one or more wrestlers into the tournament.

            During the offseason, Andres will continue to focus his efforts on recruiting more talent for Mercer’s building wrestling program.  With the talent that is already in place and the interest that’s been generated by the Bears’ recent success, a wrestling juggernaut could be in the midst of forming here in Macon.

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