Thirty years ago in Doylestown Pennsylvania I was privileged to be part of the most successful team ever at Del Val University, and, I suspect, one of the most distinctive performing teams in the NCAA.
We were a Division 3 team and we started the season by surprising some Division 1 teams in pre-season tournament upsets. The forces of the universe just came together and every detail worked out for us. It seems like a miracle now. To this day, I tell people that it is almost impossible to comprehend all the many details that most come together to have a NCAA championship team like this.
Our average dual meet score against all competitors that season was 53-3. We placed four wrestlers in the NCAA national finals; three won. As far as I know that might be the only time one team won 3 out of 10 weight classes (I don’t really know; I just know that it is extremely difficult to do. Most teams strive unsuccessfully to just get one this far).
I was a graduate of the program and an assistant coach then. I was intensely involved in daily training and competing myself as a rising ranked national freestyle (and later Greco-Roman) wrestler. Our unprecedented success that year was based, in part, on the integration of freestyle strategies into collegiate wrestling.
That was my last year coaching a college wrestling team. Honestly, I knew that the peak experience would not be repeated and there was only one direction to go from there. At that point I switched to high school and club coaching.
Tomorrow the University will induct the entire team into its hall of fame. I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to relive these memories of an extraordinary life experience and reunite with some teammates.
If not for the photograph serving as a reminder, neither I nor anyone in my family could remember the date this happened precisely. My estimate from memory was off by three years.