UF Roughneck Proudlock earns national runner-up honors

By: Collin Frazier



While happy, Proudlock unsatisfied with result

The University of Findlay wrestling team was well-represented by junior Branson Proudlock at the 2022 NCAA Division II National Championship Mar. 12. Proudlock, representing the 141-lb class, earned All-American honors as well as national runner-up, coming up short against eventual national champion Zeth Brower of Lander University. Although Proudlock is proud of his accomplishment, to him, it was just not enough.

“It felt really good to make the finals, but it really sucked not to win because it was my goal was to be a champ,” Proudlock said. “It was a little bit of a difference [in the match] between being the champ and being the runner-up. I’m happy with how I did, but I’m not super happy about it.”

Before meeting Brower at the finals match, Proudlock went up against Colby Smith of Lindenwood University. The semifinal match did not begin the best way for Proudlock, being down 6-0 at the end of the first period.

Branson Proudlock. Credit: University of Findlay Athletics.

“I was kind of nervous being down 6-0,” said Proudlock. “There wasn’t a situation this entire year where I had been down by anything more than maybe two points. It was a situation like ‘oh man, I don’t know if I can win this one.’”

Shaken up, he turned to head coach Shawn Nelson to keep his head straight.

“My coach – he really calmed me down. I went into the second period down 6-0 and I looked over at my coach and he just was like ‘Hey, it’s alright. Let’s get a turn here and we’ll be fine. We’ll be back in the match. Just calm down,’ and it did absolutely calm me down a lot and it helped.”

With that, he was able to survive and advance to face Brower in the championship match. Despite a hard effort, one small mistake made the difference between runner-up and national champion for Proudlock, with Brower taking the championship.

“I thought I was gonna score then I kind of gave up my defense and then he [Brower] ended up scoring and not me,” Proudlock explained. “I think that’s something that I’ll probably think about if I do wrestle again and something I’ll end up teaching others.”

Unsure about his future as a wrestler, the match taught Proudlock an important lesson not only about wrestling, but about life as well.

“You’re not always gonna get everything that you want, and I can apply that [lesson] if I do wrestle again if I am coaching or whatever I am doing,” Proudlock said.

Featured image: University of Findlay Athletics.

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