March 12, 2011
MACON, Ga. - There's nothing like facing your own teammate in the finals.
Michael Dace bested teammate Deshoun White 4-2 in the 174-pound finals and earned Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's only individual national championship at the National College Wrestling Association Championships Sunday.
"He (Dace) wrestled tough and hurt his knee in the semifinals. He's tough even with a hurt knee," said SIUE Head Coach David Ray. Dace finished the year with a 16-3 record.
Ray was equally impressed with White, who came into the event unseeded. "He defeated the No. 2 seed, the No. 3 seed and the No. 7 seed before losing to Dace in the finals," Ray said. "And he wrestled Dace tough too."
SIUE finished the tournament in fourth place overall with 99 points. Cal-Baptist was crowned the team champion with 156.5 points and was followed by Grand Valley with 121 points and Central Florida with 99.5 points. After SIUE, Marion Military rounded out the top five with 94.5 points.
"Overall, I thought we did well," said Ray. The Cougars finished the tournament with eight All-Americans, three of which were non-scorers. Only one wrestler per weight class is designated before the tournament as a competitor who can score points for the team.
SIUE's other top finishers include John Petrov with sixth at 133 pounds, Eric Biehl with seventh at 149 pounds, Derrick Pousson with eighth at 149 pounds, Steve Ross with fourth at 165 pounds, Robert Cooney with fourth at 197 pounds, and David Devine with third at 285 pounds.
With the season now complete, Ray said it's time for his team to continue working hard in the classroom and begin working hard in the weight room. "The next step is that we have to get into the weight room and get stronger. That's where I'll know if they really want it," said Ray.