There was no doubt who was No. 1 after V.J. Giulio laid waste to his opposition at the NJCAA wrestling national championships over the weekend – his girlfriend Jordan Moyer.
Giulio brought Moyer to the top step of the awards, reserved for champions like himself, got down on his knee and proposed. She accepted.
It’s the only word to describe the clinic the North Idaho College sophomore 197-pounder put on.
Coaches agreed. They voted him outstanding wrestler of the national tournament that ended Saturday evening in the Spokane Convention Center.
“He’s explosive,” said NIC coach Pat Whitcomb, in something of an understatement.
“When he wrestles the whole time, no one can beat him. He’s been very good the last part of the season. He figured out how good he was.”
Giulio, a four-time high school state champion from American Falls, Idaho, dominated his weight class with three pins, the first 35 seconds into the second period, the other two ending in the first. He had a 10-2 major decision in the semifinals.
Saturday’s title bout was no match. So quick and strong, he lifted Northwest College foe Jonathan Wickstrom high in the air and brought him back down to the mat for an early double-leg takedown. Not much later he cradled Wickstrom in a death grip, ending things in just 1 minute, 29 seconds.
“I’m feeling fantastic,” said Giulio, who’s been on a mission since losing in the quarterfinals a year ago and placing third. “I came in there more confident than I felt in a long time. I knew if I stayed smart and stayed aggressive I was just going to take this thing home. The pin was the cherry on top.”
He said he knew coming in this year he would finish on top.
“It’s been my goal for an extremely long time and nobody was going to stop me,” he said.
Giulio was coached by his dad, Jim, nearly from cradle through high school, lending to the four state titles that he said are great memories, but nothing compared to this, the Division II St. Cloud State in Minnesota recruit said.
A national title. An engagement announcement. Outstanding.
Last year Payne Hatter and Josh Walker placed among the top four helping Labette Community College from Kansas and coach Joe Renfro share the NJCAA title with NIC.
This year Hatter won at 174 and Walker was second at 125, two of four finalists who led Northeastern Oklahoma A&M to this year’s national title – for coach Joe Renfro, named coach of the tournament.
They weren’t the only Labette transfers who followed their coach where the school was returning to wrestling after a 21-year hiatus, Renfro said. Labette officials released them.
“It was dropped in 1993 and reinstated this year,” said the man who coached at Labette for 11 years and won a couple national titles. “A lot of the recruits were actually closer to Northeast Oklahoma and I didn’t want to lose any of them. It seemed like a good opportunity.”
Hatter, one living closer to the college, said the proximity, commitment to the sport and coach were reasons to transfer.
“Coach is the coach for me,” he said.
The team had four finalists, one champion and topped Northwest College from Wyoming 169-149. Clackamas was third with 139 and the host Cardinals finished sixth.