Kerkhoff Looks to Make History at NCAA D3 Nationals 

Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

Many have wrestled for Buena Vista, but only six have accomplished their ultimate goal: winning a national championship. 

The Beaver wrestling team has not seen a national champion on their roster since 2002’s Jamie Taxted, wrestling at the 125-pound weight class. It’s also been four years since BVU saw a wrestler fight his way through the tough regional tournament. 

This year, Brad Kerkhoff looks to make his mark in the history books on his way out from BV. As one of 18 national qualifiers, this senior with 86 career wins will have to add another perfect four to claim the title at 165. 

Needless to say, Kerkhoff is ready to compete. 

“I’m stoked to be representing BVU every time I put on the singlet, and it’ll be cool to put that stamp on the national stage,” says Kerkhoff. The plan is to make it a regular thing for the program.” 

Earning his spot through the Lower Midwest Regionals on February 23rd/24th, he won three out of his four matches en route to a second-place finish. He placed only behind the #5 ranked Eddie Smith of Loras. Kerkhoff picked up a 15-1 major decision, 9-8 decision, and an 8-3 upset over Mike Ross of Wartburg. 

With those trio of wins, Kerkhoff secured his way into the National Championship Tournament, which begins this Friday. 

“I was a little surprised by how normal I felt after qualifying,” says Kerkhoff. “There was obviously some initial excitement with my team and family, but just qualifying was never the end goal; there’s still wrestling to be done.” 

The flood of emotions wore off quickly however, as Kerkhoff and the team got back to work immediately. In order to become the best, practice had to continue. 

“Practices have been more or less the same leading up to nationals. We’ve been training the way we have up to this point for a reason,” explains KerkhoffI’m just grateful to have all my teammates in there treating it like business as usual. There’s obviously more emphasis on my individual technique and areas for improvement between me and the coaches, but we tend to not treat things like a big deal.” 

Meeting his high expectations this season, Kerkhoff finished the year with a record of 27-9. He also went 5-2 in the American Rivers Conference with five pins and four technical falls.   

However, despite ending his career on a high note, he has one more obstacle to overcome. And it’s a big one. 

“My main personal goal heading into this season was to win a national title. I knew I had hung with the best guys in the past, but it was time to turn the corner and start beating them,” Kerkhoff shares. 

Kerkhoff would end up meeting his goal of defeating the best of the best and finished the year ranked eighth in all of Division 3 at 165. His most notable win of the season came during the Pete Willson Invite, where Kerkhoff knocked off #3 ranked Mark Choinski of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in an 11-5 decision. However, a rematch may be in order. 

Though Kerkhoff earned himself a first-round bye, Choinski is on Kerkhoff’s tail in the national tournament facing Anthony Arroyo of Baldwin Wallace in the first round. Arroyo, who also wrestled Kerkhoff for the first-place spot in the Pete Willson invite, came out on top over the Beaver in a 2-13 major decision.  

No matter who makes it through, either Kerkhoff or Choinski will be looking for revenge. 

With his career as a Buena Vista athlete also over, Kerkhoff also had the chance to think about his time at BV. On the way Roanoke, Virginia, Kerkhoff reflects. 

“If I could condense this whole season into one collective memory, that would be favorite memory. I’ve never felt better about my training and relationship with the sport than I do this year,” says Kerkhoff.  

Faced with change in his senior season under a new head coach in Mark Rial, Kerkhoff stepped up into the role as a leader for the team.  

“I knew that this would be a key year for the program because of the coaching change. Being a senior, I wanted to be a productive component in making it the best transition possible,” says Kerkhoff.” 

No matter how this weekend goes for Brad Kerkhoff, he’ll always fondly remember wrestling as a Beaver. 

Author’s Note 1: 

In case you wanted to watch Kerkhoff’s first round matchup live, the BVU Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) is holding a viewing party in Cru5h at 10 a.m. on Friday. His first match against either Choinski or Arroyo is estimated to begin around 11:00. 

Author’s Note 2: 

Here’s the full roster of wrestlers heading to the Division 3 National Championships as well. This list includes weight class, grade, qualifying tournament, record, and the full brackets for each class.