Senior wrestler Andy Kazik made history when he defeated Ricky Crone of Augsburg College 4-2 in the 184 pounds championship match at the NCAA Division III Championships. He is the first Lawrence wrestler to win the national title.”I’m on top of the world right now,” Kazik said minutes after winning the title.
Kazik finished the season with a 40-0 record, the best single season record in Lawrence history. He ends his career with a record of 129-18, placing him second on the school’s career wins list behind 1998 graduate Mike Hoskins.
“Andy was in control the entire weekend,” Lawrence head coach Dave Novickis said. “He came here to win a national championship. He proved he was the best in the country, and his 40-0 record speaks for itself.”
The title also gave Kazik All-America honors for the second consecutive season. Kazik, who finished third last year, joins Ross Mueller as the only two-time All-Americans in the wrestling program’s history.
“Andy has worked hard for four years,” Novickis said. “Taking third place last year was a step in the right direction. Andy took himself to the next level this season.”
Kazik was the tournament’s No. 1 seed at 184 and he faced off against Crone, the No. 2 seed, in the first meeting between the two wrestlers.
Kazik took a 2-1 lead over Crone in the first period, and scored the only takedown of the match with 35 seconds left in the second period, grabbing him a 4-1 lead heading into the final period.
Kazik started on top in the third period and let Crone go with about 1:20 left in the match for an escape to cut the lead to 4-2. Crone was never able to mount a serious challenge for a takedown and Kazik walked away with the victory.
Kazik opened the tournament by defeating Wes Koteski of Washington and Jefferson 14-4. He then went on to defeat Ben Dusina (28-8) of Ohio Northern 7-1 in the quarterfinals evening. Kazik advanced to the final round by defeating Paul Cleary (25-5) of Loras College 3-1 in the semifinals.
Kazik becomes just the third individual national champ in school history. Diana Ling won the long jump at the NCAA track championships in 1994, and Michael Gatner was the NCAA fencing champion in epee in 1995.