The UCF Wrestling Club placed second at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s recent Southeast Conference Championship and finished eighth overall at nationals. The team has won three national championships in its 11 years competing in the NCWA.
Nine members of the team advanced to nationals, including Santiago Martinez and Josh Woods, who finished second in their weight classes. Woods earned All-American honors for the third time with his performance.
The NCWA also named Alex Chiricosta as an All-American, his second such honor.
At Southeast Regionals, five UCF wrestlers finished in the top three, including first-place finishers Chiricosta, Woods, and Martinez. Ashton Griffin finished second and Max Becks finished third.
Coach Jason Balma credits this year’s success to the team’s new role as underdogs. “We’ve been beat up by the best of them this year, inside and outside the NCWA. Because of that, maybe we’re not seen as a top-10 team now,” he said. “We usually are going full throttle into the postseason. But this year we stepped back and rested. Now the guys are hungry to compete again, and maybe we can surprise some people since we’re not the favorites anymore.”
The team is coming off an unprecedented tournament schedule including trips to Puerto Rico, Georgia, California, Nevada, Virginia, South Carolina, and throughout Florida. The team also hosted many fundraising events including the 2nd annual Johnny Rouse Golf Tournament, NWCA, UCF Open, Knight Brawl Duals, and conference matches.
The wrestling team is part of the Sport Clubs Council, a component of the Recreation and Wellness Center. The council and center are funded by the Student Government Association with a continuing mission to enrich campus life through programs that foster healthy lifestyles.