March 21, 2009
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Top seed Franklin Gomez defeated No. 2 seed Reece Humphrey of Ohio State, 5-4, to become the 2009 National Champion at 133 pounds Saturday (March 21) evening at the NCAA Wrestling Championships. Gomez is the 19th MSU wrestler to win a national championship and the first since Kelvin Jackson won the title at 118 pounds in 1995. Overall, it marks the 25th time a Spartan has claimed an individual national title.
"This means a lot to me because I represent not just Michigan State, but also Puerto Rico, my club, and especially my family and friends in Florida," said Gomez, a two-time All-American.
"There is no better feeling than having one of your wrestlers win a national championship," said MSU head coach Tom Minkel, who coached Jackson in 1995. "He's had his sights set on an NCAA Championship since he walked into our wrestling room. He's a very focused young man and he has very high aspirations."
Gomez took shots at Humphrey early on in the match, but the two wrestlers remained locked at zero through the first period. Gomez began the second period down and recorded an escape just over 30 seconds in, giving him the 1-0 lead. Gomez's momentum then carried the two out of bounds as he went for the takedown immediately after escaping.
Gomez notched his second takedown with 45 seconds left in the second to give him a 3-0 lead. A Humphrey escape left the score at 3-1 going into the final frame.
"I kind of just went with the flow," said Gomez. "I tried to control his hands, because that's kind of what (Humphrey) does, he grabs my elbow. I tried to penalize that, and as you saw, he wasn't able to do that much."
With Gomez starting the third period on top, Humphrey narrowed the lead to 3-2 with an escape 14 seconds in. After a minute of neutral wrestling, Gomez notched his third and final takedown of the contest to put him up by three with under a minute left. A reversal by Humphrey with eight seconds left would not affect the outcome, as time expired with Gomez on top, 5-4.
Gomez closed out the season on a 14-match win streak dating back to Feb. 8. The All-American finished with 27 wins, the most on the team, opposed by just two losses.