BVU Wrestling’s First All-American since 2010; Phillips II finishes in 8th

Tanner Frost

When Don Phillips II arrived in Iowa for the first time in 2017 for college, he never imagined how it’d end in glory.

The Beaver Freshman began as a two sport athlete in Football and Wrestling, but the latter stuck with Phillips during the highs and lows of his first collegiate campaign. Phillips and Assistant Coach Sean White had discussed becoming an All-American since the former’s first outing on the mat.

Beginning his Sophomore season with a new head coach at the helm, Mark Rial, and keeping the mentorship of Assistant Coach White, the Las Vegas, Nevada native found a new home on the wrestling mat and at BVU.

Never averse to hard work and a little bit of grit, the Wrestler and BVU ROTC member consistently kept the mindset that he could achieve whatever goal he set for himself.

Two years later, he stood atop the podium and looked out into a sea of fans as he held his trophy, beaming with pride at all he’d accomplished.

Placing 8th at the NWCA Division III National Tournament on March 13th, the Senior 197-pounder could hardly believe he and Coach White had “spoken into existence” his four year-goal.

“Still to this day I’m processing it,” says Phillips.

The Senior describes in detail the announcer reading out his name as he takes his place on the podium, and giving thanks to his support made up of his team and coaches. The jubilation of the moment was felt by all involved.

The moment capped off an impressive run in the national tournament by Phillips, who took a decisive 9-2 decision on day one. After being knocked into the consolation bracket, Phillips responded by taking down the number two ranked wrestler in Division III to advance to the second day and claim the highlight of his BVU career.

Wrestling some of the most tense and best matches of his career, Phillips found success by learning to, in his words,  “let it fly,”.

“During my matches I think what led to my success was getting to my attacks and telling myself that I have done the work and I’ve been at this tournament before,” says Phillips. “I haven’t wrestled in a building that big in a while so nerves played a factor just a bit!”

After taking two losses on the second and final day of the national tournament, Phillips’ career as a BVU Wrestler ended.

“I’ll miss wrestling with a group of guys that want to be successful,” says Phillips. He adds, “I’ll miss everything about wrestling for BV; the wins, the losses and the hard work and dedication it takes.”

The Senior had both of his coaches to thank for his growth over his collegiate career as well.

Giving Coach Rail and Coach White bear hugs after stepping off the podium, Phillips showed his appreciation the best way he knows how. The bittersweet moment accompanied a heartfelt goodbye to the sport he’d always loved.

“They have supported me with not only the physical battles that I’ve gone through but the mental ones as well. They have helped me build as a wrestler by motivating me to do extra after practice, and build me up as a man by leading by example,” says Phillips.

The Senior 197-pounder’s positive mindset and determination to win led him to a positive career record overall, and a 7-7 finish in his Senior season against multiple nationally ranked opponents.

His 8th-place finish also made him the first BVU All-American since 2010’s Austin Mogg who placed 5th.

Looking to the future after reflecting on his past at BVU, Phillips sets his sights on encouraging and coaching a new generation of high school wrestlers back in his hometown. Returning to Nevada, Phillips not only plans on coaching, but as well as becoming an officer in the army when returning home.