By Brian Kuppelweiser for WVUsports.com
May 24, 2012 12:16 PM
During the 1990-91 season, a West Virginia University wrestler accomplished something that no wrestler in the program’s previous 65 seasons had done – win an individual national championship.
Former Mountaineer grappler Scott Collins claimed WVU’s first of five individual national championships, as he won the 142-pound crown at the 1991 NCAA Championships held in Iowa.
Collins, who had failed to place in his previous two trips to the national tournament, came into the 1991 NCAA Championships as the No. 1 seed in his weight class.
After wins over Purdue’s Tim McClellan and Wisconsin’s Dan Spilde in his first two matches, Collins had a bout against No. 4-seeded Chuck Barbee of Oklahoma State, who was a three-time All-American.
In a tough, physical match, Collins worked his way to a 6-5 decision victory over Barbee, which led to a finals showdown against Iowa’s Troy Steiner.
“To be in the finals after not placing before is unusual, and Scott found himself wrestling an Iowa wrestler in the finals while we were competing in Iowa,” said coach Craig Turnbull. “He probably had about 12-13,000 people getting ready to cheer against him. It wasn’t that normal progression of placing several times and really having that seasoned feeling once you got your shot in the finals.”
The native of Clearfield, Pa., native would go on to defeat Steiner, 8-7, in the finals, but he needed a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the match to do so.
“The match was one of the better ones that evening, and it came down to a 6-6 score with 30 seconds left,” Turnbull said. “Scott was the one who scored the winning takedown. It was a very dramatic moment for him and a significant moment for the program. To me, it was a very significant coming-of-age moment for the program.”
Collins finished his senior season with a stellar 40-1 record and his career with a 119-34-4 overall record.
Collins’ national title, along with a placement of fourth by Dominic Black and a placement of fifth by Mark Banks, would help propel the Mountaineers to a sixth-place finish as a team, which still stands as the program’s highest team placement at the national tournament.