The Eastern Michigan University men’s wrestling season finished when redshirt juniors Phillip Joseph and Nick Whitenburg competed at the NCAA Championship Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, which took place Thursday through Saturday.
The two wrestlers were knocked out of the tournament after two losses, and both finished with a 1-2 record. Joseph has posted a 1-2 record in back-to-back trips to the tournament, and this was Whitenburg’s first trip.
“Coming into the tournament was pretty exciting,” Whitenburg said. “I’ve never actually been to the NCAAs before so it was quite an experience. Stepping on the mat in front of 17,000 wrestling fans was unbelievable. Couldn’t hear a thing besides fans going crazy.”
The first day went fairly well for Joseph (174 pounds) when he won his first match 7-5 against Northwestern University’s Leroy Munster. Joseph lost his second match, which was against No. 3 nationally ranked Michael Evans from the University of Iowa.
Joseph’s run at the tournament ended when he was eliminated by Ian Korb from the University of Pennsylvania.
In Whitenburg’s national tournament debut, he defeated NU’s Alex Polizzi at 197 pounds with a 6-
“My first match was really awesome,” Whitenburg said. “I got out to an early lead then reversed the kid in the second and locked up a pin.”
Whitenburg’s downfall of the day came when he was set back by a 19-4 technical fall from the University of Wyoming’s No. 4 Alfonso Hernandez.
“My next two matches were really tough; definitely not the results I wanted,” Whitenburg said.
While in the consolation bracket at the double elimination tournament, Whitenburg was eliminated by Virginia Tech’s Derrick Borlie in a 6-1 decision.
“This was a huge learning experience for me, and it makes me hungry to get back here for next year and be one of the guys standing on the podium,” Whitenburg said. “Makes me want to train harder after this weekend.”
Whitenburg finished the season with an 18-12 record.
Joseph and Whitenburg were disappointed in their performances on the mat.
“Me and Phil are on the same level as these guys,” Whitenburg said. “We just weren’t on our game this weekend. We both should have done way better.”