Pete Willson Invite

Arica Burns

Millikin University’s Big Blue Wrestling competed at Wheaton College’s Pete Willson Invite on January 31st and February 1st starting around 9 a.m. The Pete Willson tournament started in 1938 and continues to be the longest running tournament in all of wrestling. 

There are 32-4 teams and can be considered to have a small NCAA tourney atmosphere where each individual guy earns points that add up to the team score.

“This was the first Pete Wilson experience for many all the guys except for Bradan,” said Ryan Birt, Head Coach. “It can be overwhelming, but I felt they all did their very best. It is a crazy tough tourney.” 

The team ended up in 18th place at the end of the tournament, and Bradan Birt, junior, won his bracket. This was a new scene for a lot of the guys outside of Birt, and there are many teams being thrown into the mix. It is a large tournament, so the guys were able to see a lot of different competitors.

“I pinned a lot of guys and gave up two take downs throughout the weekend, I’m not really happy about that, but I felt dominant,” said Birt.. “Everyone was tough there, so I like the fact that I got some good opponents to face. Physically, I’m better than ever, and mentally I’m better than anyone.”

It was a tough weekend that set a bar or revealed a goal for some of the guys at the Big Blue. There were a lot of competitors and the guys got to see how their limits were tested. 

“As a coach I’m very proud of all their efforts and happy they got to see the bar for most of them to reach for,” said Head Coach Birt.

The team fought this weekend, seeing what they are capable of in a tournament like the Pete Willson Invite. This may have helped them see a goal or a bar that they’ve got to reach for, as Coach Birt mentioned, but it also helped them grow, which is what happens every time they get out on the mat.

Millikin’s Wrestling will be competing again on Thursday, February 13th at Griswold Gym at 2:00 p.m. for the CCIW Championships. Come out to support the Big Blue Wrestlers. There is more information available on Millikin’s athletics page.