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Top 50 Countdown - #6-#5

By MI Grappler, 04/10/20, 12:00PM EDT


6. Nick Simmons

The "East Lansing Strangler" got his career started at Williamston, where he won four state titles with a record of 211-0 and 178 falls, including a streak of 54 consecutive falls.  Wrestling at Junior Nationals all four years, he won freestyle titles in 1998, 1999, and 2000, finishing 2nd in 2001.  In 2001 he also placed 3rd at Senior Nationals and was a winner at the Dapper Dan and Dream Team Classic - pinning his opponents in both.

Simmons was a two-time Asics/Tiger 1st Team selection (1999, 2001) and was Honorable Mention in 2000.  He was named to the 2001 WrestlingUSA Dream Team and also was the Jr. Schalles Award winner, given to the nation's most dominant high school wrestler.

Attending nearby Michigan State, and staying in green and white, Simmons became a four-time NCAA All-American with finishes of 7th, 4th, 4th, and 3rd.  He was a three-time Big Ten Champ, three-time Midlands Champ, and three-time MVP of the Spartan team.  His 138 career wins are second all time for MSU, and he is the career leader in falls with 46.  While in college he also won gold at the 2004 Pan-Ams and was 5th at University Worlds in 2005.  He was Outstanding Wrestler and won the Most Falls Award at the '05 University Nationals. 

On the senior level, Simmons was a seven-time US National Team member.  He placed 3rd at the 2008 Olympic Trials and was 2nd at the 2012 Olympic Trials.  In 2011, he made the World Team, finishing 5th at the World Championships.  Simmons also won the US Nationals in 2010.   After coaching stints at Oregon State and Indiana, he returned home to start the Simmons Academy of Wrestling in Lansing and also is a coach for the Michigan Regional Training Center.

5. Mark Churella

The patriarch of the Churella wrestling family was a 1975 state champ at Farmington, after placing 2nd as a junior and 3rd as a sophomore.  He was 2nd at the 1974 Junior Nationals in freestyle, and won the tournament a year later in 1975.  Also in '75, he won at the inaugural Dapper Dan Classic, being named Outstanding Wrestler of the event as well.

He went on to have the most successful career in Wolverine history at Michigan.  Churella placed 3rd at NCAA's as a true freshman and then rattled off three straight NCAA titles, being named Outstanding Wrestler in 1978 and scoring falls in both the 1978 and 1979 finals matches.  A two-time Big Ten champ, he compiled a record of 132-13 with 41 falls, both program highs at the time of his graduation.  

In freestyle, Churella won the Junior World Championship in 1977 and because of the impending boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980, did not compete on the senior level past that year.  He was the head coach of UNLV from 1979-1984 and established the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite during that time, which has become the toughest in-season tournament in college wrestling.  

Churella was inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1996 and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1999.  He is the namesake for U of M's Mark Churella Award, given annually to the team's most outstanding freshman.  

Flowrestling Videos:
1977 NCAA Finals match
1979 NCAA Finals match
Late 70's Michigan Training Video