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Florida Gulf Coast University NCWA DII National Wrestling Champions

03/27/2014 -

“You can be the best coach in the world, but if your athletes are not willing to make the necessary commitments, demonstrate the required discipline, endure the suffering, make the tough sacrifices, function as a team, and practice everyday like they want to be champions, then it does not matter who the coach is.” Coach Milkovich

Just over two and a half years ago, then FGCU wrestling club freshman Dan Weiner approached Pat Milkovich, a former two-time NCAA champion from Michigan State, who was doing a clinic at Barron Collier High School and asked if he would be interested in helping them at FGCU. Dan told the coach, "We want to be national champions!" That was all Coach Milkovich had to hear. And that was the beginning of the journey.

The 2014 National Champion Florida Gulf Coast University Club Wrestling Team returned home from Allen, Texas, where the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) National Championships were held. After finishing third in the Southeastern Conference Championships on March 1, FGCU jumped out to a huge lead over the defending national champion Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the first two days of competition, but it all came down to the third day when FGCU 174 pounder, Gio Jiovenetta, won his All-American match for fifth place, in triple overtime. With that win the Eagles clinched their first ever National Club Wrestling Championship.

Milkovich said, “That we were able to attain that level of success in 2 ˝ years speaks to the kind of wrestling talent already available on the FGCU campus and to the quality of wrestlers that the state of Florida produces. The NCWA fills a much needed void for all the college programs that have been dropped over the years and it would behoove NCAA coaches to take a closer look at some of the talent at this level."

FGCU qualified eight scoring wrestlers and one non-scorer for Nationals. Every single qualifier scored points to help secure the national title for Florida Gulf Coast. Because the Eagles placed 13th in the Collegiate Cup Duals in January, they were awarded 12 points to start the National Tournament.

125 Austin Vajen JR 3.50 points
133 Michael Blasucci FR 6.0 points
149 Dan Weiner JR 6.0 points
157 Carlos Rios FR5.0 points
165 Ken Hird SR 8.5 points
174 Gio Jiovenetta FR 16 points
174 Jimmy Keegan SO (4.5 non-scoring qualifier)
184 Vinnie Jiovenetta JR 5.0 points
197 David Lima SO 5.5 points