Sunday, September 5, 2021

Defending the Title: 2000: Those Who Did and Those Who Did Not Defend the Title

 Cael Sanderson of Iowa State wins title #2 of 4. 

2000 Champion 125 
Jeremy Hunter Penn State 

A four time state champion for McGuffey High school, Hunter had an impressive career wrestling for the Nittany-Lions.  Placing 5th in the nation as a sophomore in 1998, he was the NCAA runner-up in 1999 as a junior.  He capped off his career of 123 victories with the NCAA title in 2000.  He later coached at Illinois. 

2000 Champion 133
Eric Juergens of Iowa 

Juergens never knew defeat during high school as he went 144-0 winning four state titles for Maquoketa High School.  Competing for the Hawkeyes, he went 120-13, capturing back to back 3rd place NCAA showings in his freshman and sophomore campaigns of 1998 and 1999.  He then finished off his career winning back to back NCAA titles in 2000 and 2001.  A coach at Augustana (IL) he was also a co-founder of the Young Guns wrestling. 

2000 Champion 141
Carl Perry of Illinois 

I once went to a wrestling camp where Carl Perry told us that it was never a bad idea to have a go to move as well as a secret move that your competition might not expect.  He practiced what he preached.  The two time Virginia state champion from Great Bridge high school, didn't seem like a likely candidate to win the NCAA title.  Placing 7th in the nation as a sophomore in 1998, he failed to place in 1999 as a junior.  Entering the NCAA tournament as a senior in 2000, he had finished a disappointing 4th at the BIG 10 championships. Using the very strategies that he advised camp goers in Mexico, Missouri three seasons later, he shocked the nation as he won the NCAA title.  

2000 Champion 149 
Tony Davis of Northern Iowa 

Yet another standout from Mount Carmel High school in Illinois, Davis finished out his final two years of high school winning a state title as a junior and finishing as the state runner-up as a senior.  Collegiately he spent his first two seasons at Iowa Central where he won back to back NJCAA titles before transferring to Northern Iowa.  Finishing as the NCAA runner-up in 1999, he ended his career as the NCAA champion.  He coached East Chicago High in Indiana, as well as collegiately for Nebraska and North Carolina State. 

2000 Champion 157 
Brett Matter of Pennsylvania 

It came as a bit of a surprise when the son of Andy Matter a two time NCAA champion for Penn State, chose to go to Pennsylvania instead. Yet when the two time New Jersey state champion of Delran began competing it was for the Quakers, not the Nittany Lions.  While at Pennsylvania, Matter won four EIWA conference titles. Placing 5th in the nation as a junior in 1999, he ended his career as the national champion in 2000, accumulating 128 victories. 

2000 Champion 165
Donny Pritzlaff of Wisconsin 

Another representative of New Jersey, Pritzlaff won three state titles for Lyndhurst high school.  Competing for the Badgers, he won three BIG 10 titles, earning All American status four times.  After placing 6th as a freshman in 1998 and 5th as a sophomore in 1999, Pritzlaff won back to back NCAA titles in 2000 and 2001.  Post college he won Bronze medals at both the World Cup and World Championships as well as Pan-American Silver. 

2000 Champion 174
Byron Tucker of Oklahoma 

Sometimes in order to achieve the things you want in life, you have to change the way you go about trying to obtain them. A Virginia state champion in high school for Western Branch, although Tucker qualified for the NCAA championships in his first three seasons, he wasn't accomplishing what he felt he was capable of.  He went 1-2 in 1996, 2-2 in 1997 and 1-2 in 1998.  He took the 1999 season off in redshirt to reflect what it was that was holding him back. He came to the conclusion that he focused too hard on winning and more importantly way too hard on not losing. Those weren't the goals he should have. Instead he changed his philosophy to going out, wrestling as hard as hard as he could and doing his best to score as many points as possible while keeping his opponent from scoring. He stopped worrying about winning and losing and began to concentrate on simply wrestling well.  When he returned in 2000 for his final season, it made all the difference in the world.  Not only did he win the NCAA title but he went undefeated that season as well.  109 career victories, Tucker now works as an endodontist. 

2000 Champion 197
Brad Vering of Nebraska 

A three time state champion for Howells High school, Vering headed an hour south to compete for the Cornhuskers in college.  Placing 4th in the nation as a sophomore, Vering's NCAA title came in his junior season of 2000.  He ended his collegiate career by placing 7th in 2001.  Internationally Vering won Pan-American Silver in 2003 & World Silver in 2007. 

2000 champion HWT
Brock Lesnar of Minnesota 

If you wonder why he was one of the most feared wrestlers in NCAA wrestling during his reign, just take a look.  The guy was solid, cut up muscle, and he was at HWT!  Hard to believe but the best Lesnar ever did competing for Webster High school in South Dakota was 3rd.  He began his college career at Bismarck State where he was 5th in the NJCAA in 1997, winning the NJCAA title in 1998.  He then transferred to Minnesota where he was the NCAA runner-up in 1999, finishing his career as the NCAA champion in 2000. 

Post college there isn't anything Lesnar hasn't done.  He's won titles in the UFC. He's won titles in the WWE. If that isn't enough, he's also played in the NFL and he's had roles in television shows as well. His daughter runs track at Arizona State. 


Sanderson previously mentioned 

Juergens and Pritzlaff repeat as champions 

Vering does not 

Hunter, Perry, Davis, Matter, Tucker and Lesnar all seniors 

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