The path to the top isn’t often a straight line, something Nick Becker (UW-Parkside) has a little experience with. After an impressive high school career, he spent a redshirt year at Central Michigan before starting for the Chippewas during the 2013-14 season. Becker struggled both on the mat and off it which ultimately led to a transfer back home. His brothers had established quite a tradition at Wisconsin-Parkside with Brad having won a national title in 2006, Kyle becoming an All-American in 2008, and Craig grabbing his title in 2010. Nick came home humbled, but he wouldn’t stay down for long.
In his first season back in Wisconsin, Becker proved unstoppable winning all 41 of his matches with 31 coming along with bonus points. He won his first national title at 174 pounds in 2016 to cap that season. A year ago, Nick was flawless once again, rolling to a 25-0 record, winning his second consecutive title, and being named wrestler of the year in Division II. As he came to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, over the weekend for his final college tournament, Becker was riding a school record 86 match winning streak after blasting his way through another regular season and regional tournament without a hiccup. He made his first three matches look easy, earning a fall, a 16-5 major decision, and an 18-0 tech-fall to reach the finals once again.
Taking the mat opposite Becker was Nolan Kistler (Cal Baptist), a two-time All-American himself who knocked off 2017 Division I All-American Brandon Womack (Cornell) in December and had not lost to a Division II foe all season. Despite a tough opponent, Becker would not be denied. An early takedown put Kistler in front, but Becker secured one of his own and rode out the first period for a 3-2 lead. Another takedown in the second period extended that lead, as did a reversal in the third. A riding time point made the final 8-4 as Becker finished his D2 career 90-0 with three national championships. This one meant a little more as longtime Parkside head coach Jim Koch was killed last March when he was hit by a car in St. Louis while attending the Division I tournament. Becker had said previously of Koch, “He’s probably the biggest person who helped get my life back on track after I transferred. He was a mentor to me, as well as to other guys on the team. If there would be one person at the entire University of Parkside who had an impact on a program, he would probably have the largest impact.” Nick has also earned a degree in criminal justice and is working on a graduate degree in sports management, proving he has turned it around in the classroom as well.
Congratulations to Nick Becker of Wisconsin-Parkside, TOM’s College Wrestler of the Week!