DIII National Challenge

Arica Burns

Millikin University went to  Cleveland, OH to compete in the DIII National Challenge against three universities on Saturday, January 4th, 2020. They competed against Stevens Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Chicago. Big Blue went 3-0 on the day and started 2020 off with three big wins.

The DIII National Challenge seems like it would put a lot of pressure on those competing, but Head Coach Ryan Birt would argue that no situation should be too big for them. The National Challenge brought a lot of ranked teams and guys into the mix, but Big Blue came out on top.

“Pressure isn’t real. We talk to the guys, and no situation should be too big for us. That anxious energy is good energy, but no such things as fear or pressure,” said Ryan Birt, Head Coach.

They competed against Stevens Institute of Technology and won 24-18. When they competed against Western Reserve University, they won 40-9. Their last match, against University Chicago, they won 22-18.

This competition was a struggle for some of the guys, but it’s also eye-opening to the competition they’ll be seeing as the season comes closer to an end. It was a competition that had some top ranked guys wrestling against them, so it gave them a look into the competition they could see at the NCAA’s. This competition was important because of the outlook it provided for Big Blue’s guys.

“I think it shows as a team that we can beat really good teams if we put it all together. Season wise, we had some top ranked kids wrestling against us, so individually it gave out guys a solid look at the competition we could see at the NCAA’s,” said Coach Birt.

Bradan Birt came out on the day 3-0 individually, meanwhile Taylor McGiffen, though he only competed twice, came away 1-1 on the day. Losing is hard, but it’s a process just like preparing for a match. There’s  a lot to think about, and sometimes it’s hard to come out of that mental state that a loss puts one in.

“I lost, there isn’t anything to feel good about, but it is a process,” said Taylor McGiffen, junior. “So, that just means that I have to get better to be where I want to be. Mentally, I feel bad for myself that I lost, but I didn’t lose today because I learned from it. So, I still think I came out on top, but I think I did just fine even though it’s been a week since I last competed.”

It’s been a long break, but the guys have been competing hard. This was their first competition after the short break for the holidays, and they came away with a win on the day as a team. It’s helped some of the guys feel like themselves in a way that they hadn’t before, and that shows how important this sport is.

“I feel mentally good after break, honestly felt like myself wrestling this year finally. That’s what I’ve been waiting for, so it’s time to build on that, become more dominant and best some better opponents,” said Bradan Birt, junior.

They compete at the NWCA National Duals on January 10th and 11th at 9 a.m. ET and it will progress if they beat The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Be on the lookout for their Live on Facebook to keep up with the competitions.