By Nikki Ellis
PHILIPPI, W.Va –The Alderson Broaddus University Wrestling team secured 1st place in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) for the second year in a row.
Dwayne Johnson, a senior Exercise Science major from Baltimore, Maryland, won 1st place in the 197 weight class at the MEC Championship on January 28, 2023 at West Liberty.
Having only officially competed as a Battler for the Wrestling team for two years, Johnson has a history and love of wrestling from his high school days. He’s continuing that love by training, practicing, and maintaining a friendly relationship with his teammates and coach throughout his college years as well.
Coming in as a freshman, Johnson decided to focus on his academic work and put athletics on the backburner while he found his footing at the collegiate level.
“I was three credits short of being eligible,” Johnson said. “I wanted to take that time to focus on school.”
Though Johnson did not formally compete that first year, he remained dedicated to training, practicing, and traveling with the team to support his friends and the program.
He did not step onto the wrestling team officially until his junior year at AB, after playing for the football team his sophomore year. Johnson acknowledges his love for football waned, but his love for wrestling is what motivated him to talk with Sam Gardner, the Head Wrestling Coach, about formally joining the team and being able to compete.
“God blessed me with the talent to wrestle and my love for football faded,” Johnson said.
The decision proved to be a good choice for the athlete. In his first season wrestling, Johnson placed 4th at the Messiah Tournament, 2nd place at the Waynesburg Tournament, and 1st place at the JCU Tournament.
This season, his last as an Alderson Broaddus Battler, Johnson aims to improve his weaker positions, becoming more attentive, honing in and sharpening the craft more, and just working hard. In response to winning the MEC Championship, Johnson is reflective and proud of the accomplishment.
“It was a blessing, and a very humbling experience,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of hard work that finally paid off.”
Sam Gardner praised Johnson and his performance in a post meet interview that was featured on gobattlers.com.
“I’m so happy for Dwayne,” Gardner said. “He earned this championship with hard work and unshakable positivity. He lives the lifestyle of a champion, and it paid off with a championship. He’s getting better every week. We knew he had a tough opponent in the final, but we had him scouted and we had a plan, and Dwayne followed that plan exactly. The Roc is exactly the kind of student-athlete we want to be a Battler. I’m so proud of him.”
Johnson is eager to move forward to compete in Regionals in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on February 25th, 2023 and hopefully at Nationals in Iowa in early March.