Grand Canyon heavyweight Tyrell Fortune put together a dominating season in 2012-13 and was named the NCAA Division II Wrestler of the Year on Wednesday.
Fortune went 37-1 with a school-record 20 falls and five major decisions, going a perfect 20-0 against Division II opponents. The junior standout captured the Division II national championship on March 9 in Birmingham, Ala. with a 4-3 finals victory over two-time defending champion Matt Meuleners of Northern State.
“It’s an honor to be chosen the national wrestler of the year,” Fortune said. “It has been a great experience at GCU this season and I am grateful for the opportunity to finish my degree and my collegiate wrestling career here.”
“Tyrell has done a tremendous job here at GCU,” head coach R.C. LaHaye said. “He has really stepped up and been a leader for our younger athletes and we are looking forward to even bigger things from him in the future.”
Fortune is the sixth recipient of the award, sponsored by the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches’ Association and voted on by eight coaches from around the country. The Region IV representative edged St. Cloud State senior and Region III Wrestler of the Year Shamus O’Grady by one point for the top honor.
O’Grady was the Outstanding Wrestler at the Division II Wrestling Championships after winning the 184-pound title to cap a 40-1 season. The other two finalists were Notre Dame freshman 165-pounder Joey Davis from Region II and North Carolina-Pembroke senior 174-pounder Mike Williams from Region I.
Fortune gave up only one takedown all season and won regular season tournaments at the Cowboy Open and Roadrunner Open before taking the Super Region IV crown. He had a fall, major decision and 7-0 shutout at the national tournament before beating Meuleners in the title match.
A two-time state champion at Lake Ridge High School in Portland, Ore. who has won 16 freestyle and Greco-Roman national titles, Fortune captured back-to-back junior college national championships at Clackamas Community College (Ore.) before going to Grand Canyon.
Previous winners of the award were Nebraska-Kearney heavyweight Tervel Dlagnev (2008), Nebraska-Omaha 157-pounder Todd Meneely (2009), Pittsburgh-Johnstown 133-pounder Shane Valko (2010), Western State 197-pounder Donovan McMahill (2011) and Upper Iowa 133-pounder Trevor Franklin (2012).