All-America dreams come true for Citadel wrestlers
As Odie Delaney talked with a visitor outside The Citadel wrestling room last week, one of his teammates poked his head out of the door.
He matter-of-factly puked in the trash can by the door, then returned to his workout.
“That’s how we roll,” Delaney said.
Few athletes work harder at their sport than wrestlers. And not many wrestlers have put more into their dreams over the last five years than Delaney.
The redshirt senior’s five years at the military school culminated this weekend as he and teammate Ugi Khishignyam both earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.
Khishignyam ended up in fourth place in the 141-pound division, the highest finish ever by a Citadel wrestler. Delaney claimed seventh in the heavyweight class. They are the second and third wrestlers in Citadel history to make All-America.
“The coaches have put a lot of hard work into me and I have worked really hard to become an All-American,” said the 6-3, 235-pound Delaney, who took a redshirt year two years ago to bulk up from the 197-pound class to heavyweight. “It has always been a lifelong dream of mine and to finally achieve it is overwhelming.”
Delaney won three matches Friday to come out of the consolation bracket and clinch a top eight finish. He pinned Iowa State’s Matthew Bradley on Saturday to claim a seventh-place finish and tie the school record for career victories with 125.
“I love this big stage and being here to take what I have worked so hard to earn was amazing,” Delaney said.
Khishignyam, a redshirt freshman from Mongolia, was seeded sixth and defeated the Nos. 3 and 5 seeds before losing in the semifinals on Friday.
On Saturday, he pinned North Carolina’s Evan Henderson to make the third-place match, where he lost 12-4 to top-seeded Hunter Stieber of Ohio State.
Khishignyam finished the season with a 42-6 mark.
“It’s tough competition out here, so I learned a lot of things and I have a lot of things to work on,” said Khishignyam. “But I will do my best next year to try and achieve my goal of becoming an NCAA champion.”
Coach Rob Hjerling has coached all three of the Citadel wrestlers to make All-America, including Dan Thompson in 2006.
“I couldn’t be happier for Ugi and Odie,” said Hjerling. “It’s a little hard to put into words but I know how important it is for them and it was great to see all of their hard work come out with a reward.”