Big Blue collect four individual championships, CCIW Coach of the Year and Most Outstanding Wrestler
The Millikin University wrestling team won its third straight College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Team Championship at the 2022 CCIW Wrestling Championships hosted by Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., on Feb. 10.
Millikin had four individual champions and a total of nine wrestlers who earned All-Conference honors finishing in the top three in their weight class. The Big Blue scored 157.5 points breaking its own CCIW record of 153.5 points set last season.
Junior Tommy Russell, of Brookfield, Ill., gave Millikin its first CCIW individual championship going 2-0 at 125 pounds. Russell, who entered the tournament ranked 14th in NCAA Division III, improved to 23-3 on the season.
Junior Peter McCusker, of Rantoul, Ill., earned the second CCIW title of his career winning at 157 pounds. McCusker won all three matches by fall including the Championship match.
Senior Bradan Birt, of Epworth, Iowa, made history winning his fifth CCIW championship becoming the first wrestler to accomplish that feat. Birt posted two wins by fall before winning the title match by injury default. Birt is 33-0 on the season and ranks second in NCAA Division III.
Sophomore Dejon Glaster, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., won at 174 pounds and improved his record to 25-10 on the season. Junior Brayan Reyes, of Springfield, Ill., finished in second place at 285 pounds. Reyes won his first two matches to advance to the title match where he lost 2-1.
Sophomore Zac Blasioli, of Wood River, Ill., finished in third place at 133 pounds after going 3-1 on the day while senior Jordan Carson, of St. Louis, Mo., finished in third place at 149 pounds earning All-Conference honors for the second straight year.
Sophomore Micah Downs, of Wapella, Ill., finished in third at 184 pounds as did first-year wrestler Niles Ager, of Rock Falls, Ill., at 197 pounds.
Millikin Sweeps CCIW Wrestling Championship Awards
Ryan Birt (right)
Millikin wrestling also swept the 2022 CCIW Wrestling Championship Awards. Head Coach Ryan Birt was named the CCIW Coach of the Year while Big Blue senior Bradan Birt was named the CCIW Most Outstanding Wrestler and the CCIW Elite 25 Award winner.
Bradan Birt (right)
Modeled after the NCAA's Elite 90 program, the CCIW Elite 25 is presented to the student-athlete who excels academically and athletically at the conference level in each of the CCIW's 25 sponsored sports. To be eligible for the Elite 25 Award, a student-athlete must be a sophomore, junior, or senior and in at least their second season of competition with their current team. For wrestling, the student-athlete with the highest GPA from the first or second place team in the conference tournament will receive the award.