By BRODY FELDMANN
Mustang had never had a national champion before last year, but now the Broncos have two in as many years.
“I feel like a broken record sometimes. But it is indicative of the work that these kids have put in and where they want to go and compete at the next level,” head coach Brian Picklo said.
John Wiley walked into the Fargo Dome Saturday as an unknown name to everyone but his coach and his teammates — Shelton Chastain, Keegan Luton, Mitchell Neiner, Tate Picklo, Brannigan Reyes and Judson Rowland.
“He (Wiley) was kind of unknown, he wasn’t ranked and wasn’t on the radar. Now, everyone is talking about him,” Picklo said.
After a 7-0 record, with five coming by technical superiority, in freestyle, Wiley walked out of the arena Tuesday with a golden stop sign in hand and his name spreading like wildfire.
College coaches, high school coaches and wrestlers from around the United States now know the name John Wiley and witnessed the soon-to-be sophomore take a selfie in the middle of the mat after the championship match.
“I couldn’t tell you how many people that are coming up and talking about John and how good he is doing,” Picklo said. “Now everybody under the moon and every Division 1 coach out there is like, ‘Who is this John Wiley?’ ‘I got to have this John Wiley.’”
Last year, Tate Picklo won Fargo Nationals for the schools first national champion.
But Wiley hopes to learn from that experience as Tate won freestyle and then lost in Greco.
“He (Wiley) said it best. He said, ‘Once I won, I kind of felt a sense of relief.’ He has had this monkey on his back that he should be a national champ and he should be recognized because that’s where his talent is at. He has finally accomplished that and feels like the burden has been lifted,” Picklo said.
Wiley was critical on himself after the match telling Brian Picklo, “I didn’t wrestle my best.” And Picklo was excited to hear that even though he had just won a national championship, he wasn’t satisfied.
“He wrestled well,” Picklo said. “He is a little bit of a perfectionist. He doesn’t want to get scored on. Not only does he want to be a national champ, he wants to tech the guy and not get scored on. He didn’t wrestle near as bad as he thought he did. But I appreciate the fact that he won a national title and is still like, ‘I can do better than that.’”
Tate went into Fargo looking to defend his title but came up just short with a loss in the semifinals match.
After the semifinal’s loss Tate went on to win the next two matches to secure All-American status and finish the tournament in third-place.
“Losing in the semis is horrible because you are a match away from being in the finals and then all of a sudden you have to gather yourself, get your mind right and get back to wrestling. I have to hand it to him for being mentally tough enough to be able to gather his thoughts, gather his emotions and put together a match where he is able to perform and come out with the win,” Picklo said.
The rest of the Broncos that competed in freestyle missed out on All-American status, but each won at least one match with multiple Broncos in the round of 32 or better.
The Greco portion of the tournament began Wednesday for the Mustang grapplers, and the Broncos are hoping to bring home more gold.