SCMAT Exclusive Wrestling Article 1-18-08
Flashback - South Carolina stuns college wrestling!
Ten years ago today, on Sunday January 18, 1998 in Iowa City, Iowa a South Carolina wrestler, Shelton Benjamin, stunned the college wrestling world with a pin over Iowa's HWT, Wes Hand, to secure a come from behind 18-17 victory giving the National Duals title to the Minnesota Gophers. Two years ago SCMAT ran a series of articles entitled "Where are the now?" We looked at a former South Carolina wrestler Shelton Benjamin. With today being the 10th anniversary of one of his biggest wins in life it seemed appropriate to spotlight Shelton once again. National Duals Championship Match Minnesota 18, Iowa 17 118 - Eric Juergens (Iowa) maj. dec. Brett Lawrence, 14-5. 126 - Doug Schwab (Iowa) dec. Pat Connors, 9-5. 134 - Mark Ironside (Iowa) maj. dec. Troy Marr, 20-7. 142 - Jason Davis (MN) dec. Jeff McGinniss, 3-1 (OT). 150 - Chad Kraft (MN) dec. Kasey Gilliss, 8-3. 158 - Josh Holiday (MN) dec. Ben Uker, 9-7. 167 - Joe Williams (Iowa) dec. Zac Taylor, 5-3. 177 - Brandon Eggum (MN) dec. Paul Jenn, 7-3. 190 - Lee Fullhart (Iowa) dec. Tim Hartung, 7-6 (2 OT). Hwt - Shelton Benjamin (MN) pinned Wes Hand, 2:16. Flashback 10 years and read the newspaper that describes how Benjamin pinned a loss on the Hawkeyes. The 1998 season was Iowa Coach Jim Zalesky's first season as head coach taking over for the legendary Dan Gable. On January 26, 1998, just 8 days after the defeat, Iowa would find the same situation, but different results. Zalesky would lead Iowa to the National title that season and Minnesota would finish 2nd, their highest finish ever up to that point. Some intersting facts about Shelton and Minnesota wrestling include that at the time in 1998, Shelton was one of only two repeat All-Americans from the University of Minnesota. The other was former a HWT as well, Billy Pierce. With the 18-17 victory in 1998, Minnesota became just the second team in 16 years to beat Iowa in Carver-Hawkeye. Minnesota, Oklahoma State and Iowa have combined to win the last 18 NCAA Championships. The Golden Gophers (2001-02, 2007) and Cowboys (2003-06) have won the last seven titles. The last team outside of those three to win a national title was Arizona State in 1988. The 1998 victory for Minnesota in the National Duals was their first National Duals title and they have since accumulated a total of 5 National Duals titles. Prior to 1998, Minnesota had never finished in the top 2 at the NCAA's going back to 1929. They had occasionally reached the top 10, but the big break through for the program came when Shelton Benjamin arrived on campus. They have finished in the top 10 for eleven consecutive years since Shelton arrived on campus, including 3 national titles and 4 national runner-up finishes. 1994 NCAA finish - 13th 1995 NCAA finish - 12th 1996 NCAA finish - 19th 1997 NCAA finish - 3rd (Shelton Benjamin's junior season) 1998 NCAA finish - 2nd (Shelton Benjamin's senior season) 1999 NCAA finish - 2nd 2000 NCAA finish - 3rd 2001 NCAA finish - 1st 2002 NCAA finish - 1st 2003 NCAA finish - 2nd 2004 NCAA finish - 8th 2005 NCAA finish - 5th 2006 NCAA finish - 2nd 2007 NCAA finish - 1st Several other web links of interest on Shelton Benjamin include the Wikipedia on Shelton and this Profile of Shelton from Online World of Wrestling. And for those that do not mind a little Pro Wrestling video highlight reel from Shelton's days in the Pros, Youtube shows why Shelton is the most athletic Pro wrestler ever. Do not try these moves at home! Remember this is an entertainment industry and Shelton has starred as one of their most popular and successful wrestlers. Though I watched some Pro wrestling growing up, I have to admit I have not watched it in 25+ years, but did find Shelton's Youtube tribute a reminder of his athletic days here in S.C. as one of the most respected heavyweight wrestlers. Shelton Benjamin has brought great pride to South Carolina wrestling over the years and we can give credit to Orangeburg Wilkinson's wrestling room as a start to his success. Coach Ron Donlick (now at Berkeley) was Shelton's high school wrestling coach and he deserves a lot of credit for the mentoring time he has provided to Shelton over the years. And, I'm sure Minnesota is thankful he came to their campus 10 years ago and helped establish a powerhouse that has been in the running for national titles ever since. Hopefully in this SCMAT exclusive article for 2007-2008 the history of SC wrestling is defining itself as an exciting past with a future awaiting more greatness. These historical articles at SCMAT will hopefully provide accurate facts though we may always have missed some data at some point. If you notice a correction, addition or just want to comment please send a reply to firstname.lastname@example.org thanks, Mark Buford