Nathan Lackman runs it back and wins second straight NCAA National Championship
Assistant Sports Editor
Senior Nathan Lackman has done it once again, capturing his second NCAA National Championship. This now makes Lackman a two-time champion. During his run last year he was in the 157 lbs weight class, which saw him put together a perfect season and eventually win his first championship.
This year and season was a bit different. He bumped up a weight class, 165 lbs, and went on to finish a whopping 39-3 overall, with his only three losses coming from division one opponents. Entering the tournament, Lackman had a familiar foe on the other side of the bracket. Lackman and his brother, Matthew Lackman of Alvernia University, were the respective one and two seed heading into this tournament’s 165 lbs weight class.
“You know we had talks through the years of me moving up or Matthew moving down, and I’ve never been big on cutting weight at all, I had a rough time doing it in highschool and I made a promise to myself to not focus on it during college, and I eventually just felt comfortable and grew into 165,” Nathan Lackman told The Anchor in a recent interview.
Because of Nathan Lackman’s move up a weight class, the potential matchup of him and his brother in the finals was high, which they were aware of.
“Heading into the tournament, we both knew we were ranked one and two, and had a real possibility of facing each other in the finals, but neither of us focused on that,” Nathan Lackman said.
In a previous interview, Nathan Lackman mentioned his focus is on the task at hand rather than the end goal, a mindset he approaches every match with.
He added, “Like I said, we knew going in we could meet in the finals, but I wasn’t thinking of the end goal, I was only focused on my current match.”
Throughout the tournament itself, Nathan Lackman was on quite a run. In his first bout, Nathan Lackman took down Cole Cervantes from North Central College, giving him his 100th win overall.
“I’m not a big numbers, stats or analytics type of guy, but heading into the tournament I knew I was around 97-98 wins and the 100th was probably going to happen at this tournament,” Nathan Lackman said.
Nathan Lackman’s 100th win was just another accolade added to his already fantastic resume. Both Nathan and Matthew Lackman would advance to the second round. Nathan Lackman then defeated senior Luke Reicosky, who was the eighth seed and from John Carroll University, to reach the semifinals. In his semifinals bout, Nathan Lackman then won against sophomore Nicholas Sacco, who was the fifth seed from The College of New Jersey, to reach the finals.
As he advanced through this tournament, Nathan Lackman knew the chances of meeting his brother were still high, but it didn’t feel real to him until their matchup was official.
He said, “I was finishing up my match, and was waiting, and heard that Matt had won his and I knew we were going to be facing off in the finals, and this was the realest it ever felt.”
Both Lackmans would go on to face off in the finals. Nathan Lackman viewed it as “just another wrestling match,” adding, “we grew up doing this, it’s the first time we actually had a real match since middle school and it was surreal.”
The result saw Nathan Lackman victorious over Matthew Lackman to capture his second straight national championship. This match would even go to overtime and at that point, either of them had the chance to win, but Nathan Lackman ended up pulling away and taking home the victory.
“This match didn’t feel real until it actually happened, for those seven minutes on the mat we were opponents, but for our whole lives we trained and were partners but we put it all aside and competed,” Nathan Lackman said about the match itself.
Nathan Lackman described his feelings after this win, saying, “I was obviously happy to win, but it was a heartbreaking moment to see my brother lose at this stage. It was hard for me to celebrate when I knew how disappointed Matt was he didn’t win. It was a great feeling, but it was one of the best worst feelings I've ever had.”
Nathan Lackman couldn’t have asked for a better way to end his collegiate wrestling career. Reflecting on the final matches of his time as a RIC student athlete, he said, “You know, I had the extra year of eligibility but I think I knew going into this tournament that I would be done after this. It turned out to be the best ending. It ended where it all started. From the two of us just wrestling as kids to facing off in the finals for a national championship. It was the perfect ending, like I said it ended where it all started and I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.”