The Ithaca College wrestling team finished its season with a 14–2 record while winning its last eight matches of the year. The Bombers went on to place first at the NCAA Mideast Regional meet and finished third at the NCAA Championship meet.
Head coach Marty Nichols completed his 22nd season as head coach for the Bombers and was named the 2018 NWCA National Coach of the Year. Nichols now has a career record of 251–89–1 with the Bombers and brought his team to its best finish at the NCAA championship meet since 2011.
The team sent seven wrestlers to the NCAA Championship meet and had five of those wrestlers finish in the top eight. This includes sophomore Ben Brisman, who became the first sophomore to ever win a National Championship for the Bombers.
Staff Writer Will Gaglioti spoke with Nichols about the success of his team this past season, Brisman’s winning a national title, and how he feels about being named coach of the year.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Will Gaglioti: The team placed third at NCAAs and first at Regionals this year in comparison to last year, when the team took ninth at NCAAs and second at Regionals. How do you feel about the progression of the team from last year to this year, and how did it generate such a successful season?
Marty Nichols: The guys put the extra time in over the summer and put a lot of time in during the year, and it paid off for them. Some more experience being at the national tournament for all of those guys was a lot of help, and they came to wrestle. It was a fun weekend.
WG: Going off of the progression of the team over a year, how do you think the team developed and progressed from the beginning of this season to the end of the season?
MN: We always talk about having to get 1 percent better each day, and they did that. Their conditioning came up, they kept lifting the whole season, and they kept improving. Before they went to the national tournament, they left all of their stress behind, which was important to getting them there.
WG: Were there any wrestlers in particular that you thought stood out in any way, and if any, then how did they?
MN: They all did a really good job, I don’t know if any of them stuck out. Obviously, Ben Brisman being a National Champion, that’s a pretty impressive thing. He’s the first sophomore we have ever had to win a national title. We have had guys in the finals, and they didn’t win, but he is the first one to win as a sophomore, which is pretty awesome. He’s just getting better, you know, he’s got a long way to go to get to the best that he can be.
WG: I understand that you have been named as the coach of the year multiple times in the past, but how does it feel to be named coach of the year once again this year?
MN: It’s a great accomplishment for our whole coaching staff. It’s not just me. It’s the coaches; it’s a coaches’ award. We have some great volunteer coaches, some great assistant coaches, and all of those guys just did a tremendous job with the guys, and that award is the coaching staff, and it was pretty cool. None of those things are going to happen without the coaches and without the guys on the team, and then we had some great support from the administration throughout the whole year, which also takes a lot of stress off of you.