Gil set to become 16th wrestler in Navy history to record 100 wins – CapitalGazette.com


Nicholas Gil is on the verge of notching 100 victories.

Navy’s senior captain probably appreciates that career milestone more than most because he’s experienced the ups and downs of collegiate wrestling.

Gil burst onto the scene as a plebe at the Naval Academy, winning 25 matches and qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet. He got a taste of the big-time by wrestling two matches at nationals, which were held at Madison Square Garden in New York City that year.

“It was a really cool experience and extremely exciting to be able to compete on the big stage,” Gil said.

It appeared the Illinois native would become a rare four-year starter for the Midshipmen.

However, the hotshot youngster soon discovered you cannot take anything for granted in the hyper-competitive world of Division I wrestling. Navy brought in a big-time recruit in 2016 and Gil suddenly found himself relegated to second string.

Jared Prince, a four-time Florida state champion and consensus high school All-American, beat Gil in the Blue-and-Gold match and thereby took the starting job at 141 pounds away from him.

“It was definitely difficult at first. You go from being the starter, being the man, to having to fight for a spot in the lineup,” Gil admitted. “It was definitely tough having to compete with another nationally-ranked wrestler at your weight within the team.”

Navy head coach Joel Sharratt was impressed with the way Gil responded to the challenge posed by Prince and the disappointment of being the backup.

“To Nick Gil’s credit, he worked even harder to improve and dedicated himself to growing and developing,” Sharratt said.

Prince bumped up to 149 pounds last season and Gil reclaimed his starting spot at 141, making Navy a much stronger team as a result. Both of them enjoyed outstanding seasons and advanced to the NCAA Championship last March.

Gil enters Sunday’s double dual meet with Lehigh and Duke needing three wins to reach the 100 plateau. More than likely, the third-year starter will accomplish the feat during the All-Academy Championship the following weekend.

Gil, who boasts an impressive career record of 97-37, would become just the 16th wrestler in Navy history to reach the century mark.

“That would be a great milestone that would really mean a lot,” Gil acknowledged. “I’ve wrestled here for four years and it’s nice to know I have something to show for it.”

EARLY SUCCESS

Gil was a four-year letterman as well as two-year captain and team Most Valuable Performer at Crystal Lake High, which is also the name of the city located 45 miles northwest of Chicago. He attended the Naval Academy Prep School and was grateful for the opportunity to compete in open tournaments around the country.

“It was good to get a taste of college wrestling before jumping into a Division I program,” Gil said. “It definitely helped me out academically. I don’t think I was quite mature enough to come here directly out of high school.”

Gil arrived in Annapolis and was given an opportunity to compete for the 141-pound spot that was left vacant by the graduation of 2014-2015 starter Patrick Prada. He beat out fellow freshman Adam Connell and sophomore John Kenyon and proved a pleasant surprise, going 26-15 and placing sixth at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships.

“I think that year at prep school put things in perspective,” said Gil, who wrestled under the tutelage of current assistant Mike Letts at NAPS. “I realized that college wrestling was serious business and I was going to have to work really hard in order to compete.”

Sharratt was entering his second season as head coach when he welcomed the freshman class that included Gil, who was recruited by former assistant Brian Antonelli.

“I saw a kid bursting with athletic talent and ability, which was matched by a great work ethic,” Sharratt said when asked for his first impression of Gil.

Sharratt faced a real dilemma at the start of the 2016-2017 season as Navy had three talented wrestlers at 141 pounds. Zack Davis was willing to move up to 149 pounds and ultimately wound up at 157. Gil and Prince could not comfortably cut or gain weight so they battled it out for the starting spot.

A late take-down in the ultimate wrestle-off gave Prince the job and the highly-touted freshman maintained a grip on it throughout the season. While not happy about being beaten out, Gil considered the positives of the situation.

“It was kind of a blessing to have Jared in the room every day. We were able to learn from each other and push each other to get better,” Gil said. “We’re very different wrestlers so our strengths and weaknesses sort of complement each other.”

Gil competed in tournaments and periodically filled in for Prince during dual meets and wound up compiling a 21-7 record as a sophomore. Minus the pressure of being a starter, the youngster focused on becoming a better midshipman.

“That’s the year I really got my groove going at the academy as far as academics and the military stuff. I figured out how to handle everything,” said Gil, who boasts a 3.34 grade point average as a quantitative economics major.

Back in the lineup at 141 as a junior, Gil went 32-10 and finished fourth at the EIWA Championships. He captured three individual tournament titles as well, capturing his class at the Eastern Michigan Open, Navy Classic and All-Academy Championship.

Gil returned to the NCAA Championship, held last season at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and wound up winning two matches.

“It’s a very different environment to wrestle in so going there as a freshman and getting that experience on the mat really helped me out. I was a lot more comfortable when I went back to nationals as a junior,” Gil said. “It was a little disappointing to not even be in the blood round. That kind of fueled the fire for this season as far as wanting to get back to the national tournament and go farther.”

CONSUMMATE CAPTAIN

Navy wrestling traditionally has just one team captain so being voted into that role by teammates is a tremendous honor. Sharratt said Gil has done a great job of handling “all the collateral duty” that goes along with being captain.

“Nick is a little more quiet and soft-spoken than some of the captains we’ve had in the past, but every member of the team really respects him,” Sharratt said. “When Nick has something to say it’s always important and he’s always on point and on target.”

Gil, whom Sharratt describes as being “100 percent bought into the Naval Academy and the standards of our program,” brings the same unassuming demeanor to the mat.

“Nick is not a big bravado guy, but he goes out there every time and wrestles like the Tasmanian Devil,” Sharratt said “He’s very aggressive, very physical and very explosive. He has also proven very gritty and durable. He will wrestle with his face, wrestle with his arms and wrestle with his legs.”

Sharratt has watched Gil transform himself into a more complete competitor over the past four years. “Nick didn’t have a lot of lateral motion as a plebe. He has continued to improve in that area. He is now a much more dynamic attacker because he’s wrestling with his hands and hips,” the fifth-year head coach said.

Gil began his senior season with a 3-2 loss to Ohio State’s Joey McKenna, who has been ranked second nationally all season. He felt that was a winnable match and has refocused on getting out of the bottom position as a result.

“I realized I had to do better at not getting ridden or turned,” he said. “I try to take something away from every match, even the wins. There is always something I can improve upon.”

Gil bounced back to register a 7-6 decision over Old Dominion’s Sa’Derian Perry in the finals of the Navy Classic. Perry was a returning All-American after placing eighth at nationals.

“Nick went out and beat the sixth-ranked wrestler in the country. That was a real positive and tells you the neighborhood you should be living in,” Sharratt said.

Gil’s only other match against a nationally-ranked opponent produced a 2-1 loss to No. 8 Josh Alber of Northern Iowa at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. He bowed out of that powerhouse tournament after getting pinned by unranked Samuel Krivus of Virginia.

Surpassing 100 wins will be a memorable accomplishment, but the ultimate goals for Gil are to capture an EIWA championship and earn All-American honors. Step one would require knocking off Cornell sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis, the defending national champion at 141.

Diakomihalis, who owns a 49-1 career record and has been ranked No. 1 by InterMat throughout this season, beat Gil 9-4 in the EIWA semifinals a year ago.

“Nick took down the Cornell kid last year and that’s the important thing. Nick’s game is taking people down and he’s proven he can do that against Top 10 guys,” Sharratt said. “Nicholas Gill can absolutely can be an EIWA champ and finish on the podium at nationals.”

Gil, who has received Navy pilot as a service selection and will head to flight school in Pensacola shortly after graduation, has endeared himself to teammates by being both friend and mentor.

“Nick’s an awesome person and an exceptional leader. You can always go to Nick with any problem or issue and he either knows the solution or will find one,” Navy senior heavyweight Thomas Ott said.

Ott and Gil were at the Naval Academy Prep School together and are the only products of that class still on the wrestling team in Annapolis.

“Nick has been a real role model for me because he is always doing the right thing,” Ott said. “Everyone looks up to Nick because he’s got it all together.”

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McDougald cousins set standard for family, wrestling in Niagara Wheatfield – Buffalo News


SANBORN – This wasn’t how it was going to unfold for the McDougald family.

Undefeated cousins Willie McDougald Jr. and Warren McDougald III were about to step on the mat to face each other Jan. 9 at Niagara Wheatfield High School. But when they realized that one would leave the mat with his first loss of the season, it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Or the heartache.

At the last second, Niagara Wheatfield coach Rick Sweney replaced Warren III in the lineup with Austin Lieber.

Wrestling for rival Niagara Falls, Willie Jr. pinned Lieber in 3 minutes, 36 seconds in the 145-pound weight class. Warren III pinned Maurice Seawright in 3:57 at 152 pounds to seal a 49-24 win for Niagara Wheatfield, helping the Falcons capture the Niagara Cup and draw closer to the Niagara Frontier League championship.

Lindsey Lasut, Warren III’s and Justin McDougald’s mother, wasn’t going to let another bout between the cousins happen, either. It occurred in 2016 when Willie Jr. beat Warren III in a Section VI championship bout in the 113-pound class.

“Warren let go, and he regretted that,” Lasut said. “We had a family meeting and said, ‘They will never match up again.’

“One broke down, and he couldn’t wrestle him like he would a regular opponent.”

Justin McDougald of Niagara Wheatfield won a close match in the 113-pound class over Mitch Seaver of Lockport, 1-0, to capture his second straight Section VI wrestling title. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

Justin didn’t want it to happen, either. Not when his older brother and his cousin faced the prospect of having an unbeaten season end in a dual meet.

“You don’t want to see that,” Justin said. “You don’t want to see two cousins put a mark on each other’s records. Especially senior year. It’s bad form. You don’t want to see one fall to another.

“If we can all be three kings, why make a prince out of somebody? If we can stay at the top, stay at the top.”

Justin, at 34-0, remains the only undefeated wrestler in the family. He defeated Victor Perlleshi of Pleasantville, 5-2, to win the 132-pound title at the Eastern States Classic on Jan. 11 in Loch Sheldrake, three days after the Niagara Falls/Niagara Wheatfield dual meet.

Warren III (31-3) and Willie Jr. (33-1) suffered their first losses of the season at the same tournament.

The McDougalds are the top-ranked wrestlers in their respective Section VI weight classes, according to ArmDrag.com. They’re also a part of one of the most accomplished wrestling families in Western New York, a passion carved by their late grandfather.

“They were always serious about wrestling, from Day One,” Lasut said. “They were never nonchalant about wrestling. It’s always been go hard or go home.”

The influence of ‘Mac’

Warren “Mac” McDougald was an Army veteran and an instrument mechanic with Olin Chemical Company. He coached wrestling and instilled his love for the sport to his sons Warren, the father of Justin and Warren III, and Willie, father of Willie Jr.

“When I was young, my dad told me about wrestling and I started doing it,” said Justin, a junior who is a three-time Section VI champion and a two-time state finalist.

“Then, I found out my grandfather passed, doing what he loved, as a wrestling coach, and now I dedicate everything I do to him. We want to make it to a level where some of my family couldn’t make it to, because of injuries or setbacks or lost family members. We want to punch through and get our name further out there. And we want to keep Mac living on.”

Justin, Willie Jr. and Warren III were toddlers when Mac died of a blood clot in his lung in May of 2004. He was 48.

His son, Warren II, wanted to get his children involved in his father’s passion, but Warren’s middle child – Warren III – was reluctant to wrestle.

A trip to his older brother’s youth wrestling practice piqued Warren III’s interest.

“I was watching them and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Warren III, a senior who is a three-time Section VI champion and has placed twice in the state championships. “I was the slowest one to get on the mat, and the next thing you know, you see me on the side of the mat doing bear crawls with them, and I was 6 or 7 years old.”

Justin was 5 when he decided to wrestle, after tagging along to a tournament with Willie Jr. and Warren III.

“He looked up at me and said, ‘I want to wrestle,’ ” Warren II recalled. “He started taking off his clothes, like he wanted to compete, and I was like, ‘Wait, whoa! You have to sign up and once we sign you up, then you can wrestle!’

“But from his very first match, he was in love with the sport. Warren, it took him a couple years, but he fell right into it.”

Sweney coached with Mac, and watched as his sons brought their children to wrestling practices.

“They came out of the Niagara Falls youth program, and they’ve been wrestling since they were 4 or 5 years old,” said Sweney, who has coached wrestling for 41 years. “Their grandfather helped build that program.”

Family bonds

Willie Jr. is very measured, but extremely devoted to his sport. The defending state champion at 132 pounds will reference his grandparents in the same way he references his faith in God, as they nurtured his love of wrestling and religion.

D.J. Giancola has coached him since the seventh grade and saw what Willie Jr. invested to become Niagara Falls’ first state wrestling champion in 51 years.

“He made a lot of sacrifices, and did things that other kids might not do,” said Giancola, Niagara Falls’ coach. “He knew that when others were sleeping, he had to work out. And when you win a state title, you’re the only one out on that floor, and that’s mentally challenging. Willie did things that were on top of his work ethic, on top of his workouts. He had to focus his mind to block out that pressure.”

Justin is very straightforward. He calls things as he sees them.

Warren III is always searching for the right words in an attempt to explain things properly, including the significance of wrestling to his family.

“I’m not too sure how to explain what wrestling means to us as a family, to someone who doesn’t know,” Warren III said. “The first thing I’d say to them, though, is you have to feel the atmosphere. All the yelling and the motivation and the adrenaline, they will feel that, they will want to be a part of that, and that’s what we want them to feel. And we tell them, ‘You’ve got to join the family.’ ”

At the 2018 NYSPHSAA Division I state championships, in addition to Willie Jr. winning a state title, Justin was second in the 125-pound weight class and Warren III was third at 145 pounds.

Collectively, there’s more than wrestling to life for the McDougalds. When they are together at family events, they play video games, play football or basketball, or they talk about girls.

But Lasut gives the sport a larger measurement.

“I don’t know if you can just say wrestling is ‘important,’ ” Lasut said. “But it’s a way of our life. If we even try to take a break, the boys will ask us, ‘When are we going wrestling? What’s next?’ We do it all year.”

‘A fun little challenge’

The Section VI dual meet tournaments are Saturday at Lancaster High School, and the team winners will represent Section VI in the first state dual meet championships Jan. 26 at SRC Arena at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse.

More than 20 family members sat in the stands of the Niagara Wheatfield gym to watch the Niagara Wheatfield and Niagara Falls dual meet last week.

Warren II and Lasut were tucked in the lower bleachers, talking with friends and smiling, but there was a certain tension about Lasut, likely a product of a mother watching her children compete. In the next section of bleachers, Willie’s mother, Morgan Goldsmith, sat with a group of Niagara Falls High School parents.

“It’s a fun little challenge,” Warren II said of the family’s wrestling rivalry. “We bother each other sometimes about it, ‘You’re going to lose, we’re going to win.’ We go after each other a little bit, but it’s a friendly competition, you could say.”

As the meet progressed, Lasut gripped a camcorder in one hand and yelled commands from her chair next to the bleachers, much like a coach. Warren II was a little more subdued, sitting in the stands with his youngest son, 4-year-old John.

Just before the 125-pound match, Justin gave Lasut a hug and a kiss, high-fived his father and various friends and family members in the stands, then bounced to the mat, where he prepared for his bout against Deandre Prum at 132 pounds. Justin won on a technical fall.

In the second-to-last match of the night, the McDougalds faced the inevitable: the cousins could face each other. But it didn’t happen, both to the relief and to the dismay of family.

“We were ready, if they sent Warren out, but it’s not fun wrestling your family,” Willie Jr. said after the Niagara Falls/Niagara Wheatfield dual match. “I’ve wrestled both my cousins before, and you don’t have the same aggression for your family as you do for some guy you don’t even know.”

Then, before he went to join his teammates to celebrate their win over their rival – and their relatives – Warren III admitted something.

“Deep down inside,” he said. “I didn’t want to wrestle my cousin.”



H.S. wrestling: Four South Jersey teams are ranked in the NJWWA state poll – Cherry Hill Courier Post




WWE Announcer 'Mean' Gene Okerlund's Death Certificate Touts Career as 'All Star Wrestling Announcer' – The Blast


WWE legend Gene Okerlund may be gone from this world, but the entertainment icon amassed quite a fortune from his years inside the squared circle.

Documents in Okerlund’s probate case, filed by widow Jeanne, lists that the 76-year-old’s estate is valued at $511,000. Jeanne has also been appointed the trustee of Gene’s estate, and the documents note that Okerlund does have an active will that was created in 1998.

According to the death certificate, Okerlund’s occupation is listed as “All Star Wrestling Announcer, Sports and Entertainment.” The certificate does not list his cause of death, but states that Okerlund died at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Eugene Okerlund Death Certificate
TheBlast.com

Okerlund’s remains were cremated and given to his wife. As we reported, the iconic WWE announcer died on January 2 at 76-years-old. Many wrestlers paid their respects after learning of his death, including Hulk Hogan, who tweeted, “Mean Gene, I love you my brother.”

Gene Okerlund and Hulk Hogan
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Clark County Wrestling: Draper finally has his title – The Columbian


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BATTLE GROUND — Ask Dylan Draper the last time he was as elated after winning a wrestling match as he was Saturday in the 132-pound final at the Clark County Championships, and Ridgefield High senior might have to think about it awhile.

The pain of a cut across the nose’s bridge is eased when you win a tournament final as thrilling as Draper did at Battle Ground High School, using a takedown with 2 seconds left to break a 1-1 tie against Prairie’s Jason Wilcox. The finish got the loudest road on the boys mat from the crowd, winning 3-1.

After consecutive years losing in the finals, Draper is now 23-3 on the season and a Clark County champion for the first time.

“It felt super good to finally win it after so many years losing in the finals,” he said.

The injury to Draper’s nose was why an injury timeout was called in the third round of their 1-1 tie in a match featuring two state-ranked wrestlers in Classes 3A and 2A at 132. Draper said the mental game can shift for a wrestler in the midst of a tie match with time dwindling and it did for the senior against Wilcox, a wrestler he’s previously faced.

The goal: stay under control.

“Don’t do anything that will get me out of position,” he said. “Stay calm as much as possible and hopefully win it.”

Union (248 points) won its 10th straight team title getting champions from Noah Talavera (152 pounds), Danny Snediker (170), Kyle Brosius (182) and Josh Barber (heavyweight). Prairie, boosting four finalists, was second at 201.5 followed by Washougal (191.5).

A lot has changed since Mountain View senior Andrew Fritz last lived in Vancouver. For starters, the senior’s lived in two states and attended two different high schools before moving back to the region before the start of senior year for the Thunder.

Fritz last live in Vancouver four years ago as a Shahala Middle School eighth grader, and it made it twice as easy to reconnect with coaches to get a jump on his senior season two months early, he said.

“I feel like I wrestled really well, and starting to go back on the upswing,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the right spot to peak at state.”

Saturday, Fritz was one of two Thunder to win titles, taking the 126-pound win in a 5-2 decision over Washougal’s Cole Pass, joining teammate Noah Messman who won at 120. He hopes his first Clark County title jumpstarts the second half of his final year of high-school wrestling. At Wenatchee, where he wrestled freshman and sophomore years, he made it to as far as an regionals alternate. In Las Vegas for junior year, he missed the postseason.

“I’m glad I was able to showcase what I’ve been working toward for four years,” Fritz said. “I feel like I put it out there today.”

Change can equally be said for the Heritage Timberwolves. They bolstered three finalists Saturday, including one champion, Sanry Nguyen at 113 pounds.

Nguyen said wrestling smart and good position against Union’s Ryan Esperto was key to winning his second straight Clark County title and a better place than he was in earlier this year.

“At the beginning of the season, it was pretty rocky; I wasn’t wrestling well,” Nguyen said. “I’m into it now and wrestling a lot better.”

Teammates Israel Gonzalez (106) and Juan Castillo (145) joined Nguyen as finalists.

It’s been a whirlwind week — and season — for Heritage wrestling. Earlier this week, it captured its first league dual-match win in at least five years with a win over Battle Ground.

The culture is different, Nguyen said, and a spike in commitment has Heritage in a good place.

“It’s going great,” he said.

Other Clark County champions were: Ridgefield’s Bracen Nash (106), Skyview’s Logan Smith (138), Seton’s CJ Hamblin (145), Columbia River’s Atticus Kurtz (160) and Dawson Lierance (220), and Prairie’s Nick Langer.

 

Clark County Championships

At Battle Ground

Team scores — Union 248, Prairie 201.5, Washougal 191.5, Mountain View 150, Ridgefield  140.5, Columbia River 117, Heritage 108, Seton Catholic 79, Skyview 77, Evergreen 67.5, La Center 63, Battle Ground 52.5, Hockinson 45, Hudson’s Bay 35, Fort Vancouver 33.

106 — 1st: Bracen Nash (R) def. Israel Gonzalez (Her) 6-2; 3rd: Andy Santos (MV) def. Hunter Brown (MV) by forfeit.

113 — 1st: Sanry Nguyen (Her)  def. Ryan Esperto (U) 5-3; 3rd: Elijah Cassidy (U) p. Luke Golphenee (W) 3:33.

120 — 1st: Noah Messman (MV) def. Brandon Esperto (U) 10-5; 3rd: Dylan Jimenez (U) def. Noah Larsen (P) 5-0.

126 — 1st: Andrew Fritz (MV) def. Cole Pass (W) 5-2; 3rd: Daniel Joner (BG) p. Bridger Paradis (P) 2:16.

132 — 1st: Dylan Draper (R) def. Jason Wilcox (P) 3-1; 3rd: Jason Powell (W) p. Elijah Volk (SC) 3:00.

138 — 1st: Logan Smith (S) def. Scott Lees 15-5; 3rd: Denny Roa (E) p. Ian Campbell (SC) 2:07.

145 — 1st: Christopher Hamblin (SC) p. Juan Castillo (Her) 3:53; 3rd: Zack Brown (P) p. Josh Helm (U) 0:31.

152 — 1st: Noah Talavera (U) def. Brayden Sofianos (P) 11-4; 3rd: James Walker (CR) def. Bryce Lawrence (R) 9-6.

160 — 1st: Atticus Kurtz (CR) def. Robert Shepard (MV) 5-3; 3rd: Jeffrey Wells (W) def. Logan Newman (R) 4-3.

170 — 1st: Danny Snediker (U) p. Ben Matson (P) 2:20; 3rd: Aiden Mallory (Hoc) p. Kris Massey (W) 3:36.

182 — 1st: Kyle Brosius (U) p. Rene Sadler (CR) 1:26; 3rd: Zachry Curry (MV) def. Easton Lane (P) 6-3.

195 — 1st: Nick Langer (P) p. Korben Modoc (W) 3:44; 3rd: Max Muffett (LC) def. Va Lli (MV) 20-9.

220 — 1st: Dawson Lieurance (CR) p. Levi Harms (U) 2:43; 3rd: Cole Andersen (R) p. Bryant Coronel (FV) 4:50.

1st: Josh Barber (U) p. Malek Mabrouk (HB) 0:33; 3rd:— Brody Schlaefli (P) def. Harland Richards (E) 7-0.