Wrestling finishes season with team-best third place finish at national championships

“It’s not just like a friend group,” senior Doug Byrne said. “They’re there when you’re working hard; they’re there when you’re succeeding, when you’re losing. It’s definitely a brotherhood.”


Robert Watson III

Junior accounting major Michael Patrella (left) junior sport management major Jacob Decatur (right) on March 7, the last practice before nationals.

The Baldwin Wallace wrestling team capped off a record-breaking season with a third-place finish at the NCAA Div. III championships in Roanoke, Virginia. 

Out of eight wrestlers that qualified, four were named All-Americans. Senior Jacob Decatur placed second in the nation at 125 pounds. Decatur, a defending national champion, finished the season with a 27-2 record and became a back-to-back All-American.  

Junior Michael Petrella was named the national champion at 149 pounds. This was the ultimate redemption for Petrella after being named runner-up last season. Petrella’s father, Paul Petrella, won the first national championship in Baldwin Wallace’s wrestling history in 1978 at 177 pounds. This marked a full-circle dream turned into a reality for the younger Petrella. 

At 133 pounds, junior Jaden Hinton placed fourth and earned All-American status. This was Hinton’s first All-American honor, finishing the season with a 36-4 record.  

The final All-American was senior Doug Byrne, who wrestled at 197 pounds. Byrne placed fifth, finishing his season with a 32-3 record. He currently ranks 24th on BW’s all-time wins list.  

The Yellow Jackets finished the season with a 17-2-1 team record and raked in a seventh straight OAC championship while also winning the Central Regional Championship for the second time in the last three years.  

During a long and grueling wrestling season, the team spends long periods of time together. Byrne said the demanding season engenders a sense of family among the team. 

 “It’s not just like a friend group,” Byrne said. “They’re there when you’re working hard, they’re there when you’re succeeding, when you’re losing. It’s definitely a brotherhood.” 

Members of this year’s team stressed how much the wrestlers and coaching staff, led by head coach Jamie Gibbs, prided themselves on the team’s culture. 

 “What Coach Gibbs and all other coaches are trying to instill is you’re not just working hard in the room or working hard in the weight room; you’re doing everything right,” Byrne said. “You’re trying to get good grades, show up on time, just be a good person. If you can work hard on the mat, you can work hard in every other aspect of your life.” 

The wrestling team has a motto: do the next right thing. The idea is that everybody makes mistakes in life or might outright lose, but as this motto suggests, people can’t focus too closely on the past.  

 “You’ve got to be able to move on,” Byrne said. 

The coaching staff has created a culture of hard work in part through stressing the mantra Jacket Tough Mentality. JTM is all about going the extra mile and being the best person possible in all areas, Byrne said. “It’s all about competing in everything you do. It’s about doing those extra little things, being 15 minutes early to meetings, keeping good grades.” 

The team looks to reach new heights next season. The team will return much of their team with Hinton, Decatur, Byrne, and Petrella all returning in addition to newcomers.