Sunday, August 8, 2021

Defending the Title: 1974: Those Who Did and Those Who Did Not Defend the Title

 Pat Milkovich from Michigan State returned off a redshirt to win his second NCAA title.  Jarrett Hubbard of Michigan and Greg Strobel of Oregon State capped off their careers as two time champions. 

This was also the season when the College Division split into two separations.  NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III. 

1974 Champion 118
Gary Breece of Oklahoma 

Winning two state titles as a sophomore and junior, Gary Breece looked to finish his high school wrestling career undefeated. Then the unthinkable happened, he lost in the state finals as a senior.  It was a feeling of isolation, one that Breece wondered if anyone else had ever gone through. Then he attended the 1970 NCAA championships and watched Dan Gable of Iowa State, who many thought was unbeatable suffer his only collegiate loss.  It gave Breece new perspective.  Placing 3rd-2nd-6th in his first three NCAA tournaments, Breece entered his final season as a Sooner with two BIG 12 titles.  He lost his bid for a third, placing 2nd.  Two tournaments in his life had not ended the way he wanted them too.  His final state tournament his senior year of high school and his final BIG 12 conference tournament his senior year of college. He had one more tournament left, his final NCAA. This time things were going to end as they should. Breece went into the tournament and walked out the NCAA champion. 

1974 Champion 134
Tom Sculley of Lehigh 

A three time state champion from Bethlehem Catholic, Scully finished one match shy of All American status his junior year of 1973. He'd win the NCAA title as a senior in 1974.  He later became the Chief Operating Officer of Brute, a company that made various products from shoes to singlets for wrestling. 

1974 Champion 142
Rich Lawinger of Wisconsin 

A state champion from Mineral Point High school, Lawringer had an outstanding career for the Badgers.  After receiving NCAA runner-up honors in 1973, he capped off his career as champion in 1974.  He then coached at Riverview High, where he lead his team to three top five finishes at the state tournament. 

1974 Champion 158
Rod Kilgore of Oklahoma

A three time state champion from Tulsa Webster, Kilgore made an immediate impact placing 3rd at the 1973 NCAA championships as a true freshman. Winning the NCAA title as a true sophomore in 1974, he would place 4th in 1975.  Taking a redshirt in 1976, he returned as a senior to capture his second NCAA title. 

1974 Champion 167
Doug Wyn of Western Michigan 

A three time MAC champion, Wyn was 5th in 1972, taking runner-up honors in 1973, before capping off his career as an NCAA champion in 1974.  He later worked as a pilot and flight instructor. 

1974 Champion 177
Floyd "Shorty" Hitchcock of Bloomsburg 

One of the most beloved and missed figures in wrestling, Shorty Hitchcock had an outstanding senior season competing for the Huskies.  Winning both the NCAA Division II and Division I titles.  He had 34 wins on the season and 24 of them came via fall.  He later coached at Lake Lehman as well as being the college coach at Millersville from 1984-2002.  Today their is a memorial tournament named in his honor. 

1974 Champion UNL
Jim Woods of Western Illinois 

Also a member of the leatherneck football team, Woods made the NCAA Division II finals in 1972, following it up with a NCAA DII performance of 6th place in 1973.  As a senior in 1974, he won both the NCAA DII and NCAA I titles. 


P Milkovich, Hubbard and Strobel already mentioned

Kilgore would not repeat in 75', but after a redshirt in 76' came back to repeat in 77' 

Fantastic year for seniors winning their one and only NCAA title as Breece, Sculley, Lawinger, Wyn, Hitchcock and Woods were all crowned champion. 

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