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SALT LAKE CITY — Penn State wrestler Matt Brown set a goal to become the first returned LDS missionary to win an individual NCAA wrestling championship.
The Cyprus High School grad and West Valley City native defeated Pittsburgh’s Tyler Wilps, 5-4, Saturday in St. Louis to win the national championship in the 174-pound division.
He becomes the 23rd individual national champion in Penn State history.
“It kind of feels like my first state title to be honest,” he said after the win. “You think about it too much. Now I can start worrying about school again but it’s what you work for.”
Brown was seconds away from missing out on his dream. He trailed Wilps 4-3 with 20 seconds remaining in the match, but he was awarded one technical point.
It seemed the match was headed for overtime, but Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson challenged a non-call for locked hands that took place with one second left. Penn State won the challenge, and Brown was crowned a champion.
It kind of feels like my first state title to be honest. You think about it too much. Now I can start worrying about school again but it's what you work for.
“When you are a little kid you dream of getting that grand slam in the ninth inning and sometimes it’s a bunt. Still, it gets the job done,” Brown said about the unusual ending to his championship match.
Brown began his collegiate wrestling career at Iowa State where he was recruited by Sanderson, a Utah native and Olympic gold medalist.
After serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mozambique and Angola, he joined Sanderson at Penn State.
He will leave State College, Pennsylvania, as a three-time All-American and national champion.
Matt had a 149-4 record at Cyprus High School and won three Utah state championships.