Sunday, June 27, 2021

Defending the Title: 1928 Champions: Who Did and Who Didn't Defend Their Title

 One of the toughest things to do in collegiate sports is win an NCAA Division I wrestling title. It's something many attain to and few ever reach. For even fewer, they get to know the feeling of being the very best at their weight class more than once.  

Of course if you win your first NCAA DI title as a senior, you don't get a chance to repeat as champion. For all others, freshmen, sophomores and juniors you get a chance to be crowned champion for a second, third or even fourth time.   

We start this exploration in the late 1920's through the 1930's.  Looking at all of the NCAA Division Champions from 1928 through 1939.  When studying the history of collegiate wrestling it is important to keep two things in mind.  First and foremost, what is probably already known is that freshmen were ineligible at this time.  What might not be as apparent, is that over 90 years ago the NCAA tournament was not seen as the end all prestigious event that it is now. Today it not only resides as the most important tournament of the season, to some it is the ONLY tournament of the season.  In the late 1920's and 30's, while still important, it didn't hold the same stakes. It was essentially treated as another competition.  To NCAA DI wrestling fans now, it seems asinine but during these times for one reason or another someone might decide not to participate in the NCAA tournament. Even if they had won it previously.  

1928 Champion 115 
Harold DeMarsh of Oklahoma State 

We're still going to count this as a one time NCAA champion as 1928 was the first official NCAA tournament, but DeMarsh could count as a honorary defender of a title.  Before 1928, collegiate wrestlers competed primarily for the AAU titles.  He won a AAU title in 1925, placing second in 1926 and third in 1927 before winning the first NCAA title in 1928.  Again, treating this as a one time champion, winning as a senior.  

1928 Champion 125
Ralph Lupton of Northwestern 

Lupton was a junior in 1928 the year he became the Wildcats first NCAA DI Champion. That year he also won the BIG 10 title.  He would repeat as the BIG 10 champion in 1929.  It is unknown whether he failed to place at the NCAA tournament in 1929 or if he simply chose not to compete. Either way, he didn't win a second NCAA title.  

1928 Champion 135
Arthur Holding of Iowa State 

Like Lupton, Holding was a junior at the time of winning his NCAA title.  Also like Lupton, Holding won conference titles (his were Missouri Valley Conference) in both 1928 and in 1929. He also won a MVC title in 1927.  What might explain why Holding did not defend his title in 1929, was that the NCAA tournament was held in Ames in 1928.  In 1929 it was held in Columbus, Ohio.  It's strange to think of now, as transportation is a luxury we take for granted, but during this time getting from Ames to Columbus may have posed an issue. It could explain why he wasn't there to defend in 1929. 

1928 Champion 145
Melvin Clodfelter of Oklahoma State 

Clodfelter was a senior when he won his title in 1928. 

1928 Champion 158
Leslie Beers of Iowa 

Like Clodfelter, Beers was a senior when he captured the NCAA crown. 

1928 Champion 175
George Rule of Oklahoma State

Not 100% positive, but I believe that Rule was a senior when he captured the NCAA title. 

1928 champion UNL
Earl McCready of Oklahoma State 

Leave it up to a Canadian to be the first wrestler in NCAA DI wrestling history to defend his title.  Not only did McCready defend his title in 1929, he turned around and defended it again in 1930, becoming our sport's first time three time champion.  Post his collegiate career McCready made a name for himself in professional wrestling, primarily helping the success of Stu Hart's Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

So that's it for 1928.   Out of our seven champions here's what we have. 


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