By Emily Larkin, Online Editor
With the final match of his career, redshirt senior Noel Torres nabbed the 184-pound national championship title Saturday night at the 2018 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
He is the first NCAA national champion in any sport in Newman history.
Halfway through the third period, Torres countered a takedown attempt by his opponent, JaVaughn Perkins of Colorado State Pueblo, and turned it into his own takedown to win the third round 3-1.
Both wrestlers started the final round with one escape each that led to a 1-1 tie early on. Perkins took a shot at Torres’ right leg, but Torres spun out of the takedown for pivotal points late in the round.
Torres put himself in a definitive position during restart and held Perkins to end the match in a Jets victory.
Torres said that the magnitude of the event hasn’t sunk in.
“It really still hasn’t hit me yet but…it’s cool that I made history,” he said.
Torres said arriving at the meet felt like coming home and that he will never forget this tournament.
“Just seeing the mats, the set up, it was just awesome, and the whole time I felt so comfortable and so relaxed. The pressure didn’t get to me,” he said. “I was just grateful to be there and for the opportunity. The experience is something that will be with me forever.”
Torres credits the hard work and dedication of his head coach, Ryan Smith, and his assistant coach, Blake Fisher, for a lot of his success.
“They’ve always been there for me. They’ve always pushed me and gave me all the right tools to get here.”
Smith said that Torres has been a great asset to the team over the years and has set a standard for them for the upcoming seasons.
“Torres has always been a fantastic kid, and it’s been a blessing to watch him grow year after year,” Smith said.
“I told the guys late Saturday night that, ‘Y’know, Noel just mapped it for you. You know now you guys have direction. You have a map; he did it by himself.’”
Torres said that this victory has been a dream for him and that he has worked hard to get to where he is.
“It’s truly rewarding and fulfilling. Last year at nationals, I made up my mind that I would be there now, and I would take it home,” Torres said. “I just kept working harder and harder. You go through a lot and if there is no passion and no love, you have no room in this sport.”
Fellow All- American redshirt junior Tyler Mies finished sixth in the 157- pound category. Mies agreed that wrestling is a sacrifice and is looking forward to next year, so he can get another chance.
“I think it validates the hard work to an extent. No one will ever know the work that goes in for this sport. You have to live this sport to be successful.” Mies said.
“I am not happy with my finish. I do not see a reason why I should not be on top of the podium with my buddy Noel Torres.”
Torres agreed that Mies can push forward and win it all next year.
“Tyler Mies is a really special guy. He has came into the program and is one of those guys that helps push you that extra mile,” he said.
Smith said that, pushing forward through the next few seasons, Newman wrestling is building its chance to be successful.
“Noah Torres will not be the last national champion that Newman sees,” Smith said. “Tyler Mies got a taste of it, and he know what he needs to do more of in the upcoming season.”
Mies credits Torres for pushing him throughout the season to be a better wrestler and a better man.
“Noel is the perfect teammate.Talk about a guy that will do anything for his team or anybody. He’s a very disciplined guy who does all the right things and continues to help his teammates do the right things,” Mies said.
Vic Trilli, director of athletics, said that Torres winning has helped put Newman in the athletic spotlight.
“By him winning the national championship like that, it just instantaneously put Newman University right where we dream about being, and that’s at the forefront.”
Smith said that this is not only a huge win for Torres but for their whole program, and that he is grateful to have had such a wrestler.
“For him do what it takes to be successful and then actually cap his career off with one of the biggest wins of his life - one of the biggest wins for our program - it’s huge. We are honored that he did it at Newman University.”
Torres said that he cannot be any happier with how his season went and looks forward to the future.
“I’m grateful to the university for the opportunity. I’m glad I got it done for us,” he said, “and I’m proud to be a Jet.”