Richie Lewis was in Poland. Doesn’t every athlete dream of spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Bydgoszcz, Poland ?
They do if they are competing in the U23 World Championships. And you fulfill dreams when you take the gold at 70kg. That’s Rutgers’ 157 pounder, Richie Lewis.
"It's a great feeling," said Lewis after his championship match. "I'm just grateful more than anything. All glory to God. It was a tight [match]. He engaged me with the under hook, but I wasn't doing anything with it. So, I knew if he pushed me out twice, I would still win with the takedown."
Lewis was dominating through the tournament. The redshirt senior defeated Zulfikar Makhamatov (Kazakhstan) in the semifinals, 7-2. He moved into the semis with a 14-7 win over Turkey’s Muhammet Akdeniz, the 2016 U23 European bronze medalist. Prior to that,Lewis had two tech falls in his opening rounds. He finished the tournament with a 5-0 record.
This was Lewis’ first international competition. Lewis qualified for the championships on Oct. 8 in Rochester, Minnesota, defeating 2017 All-American Tyler Berger (Nebraska), 2-0, in the best-of-three series to claim the roster spot on the U23 Team USA roster. During his title run, Lewis defeated three 2017 NCAA qualifiers, two 2017 All-Americans and last year's NCAA runner-up at 149 pounds in Lavion Mayes.
After winning his first match of 2016, Lewis lost the rest of the year due to a shoulder injury. Head coach Scott Goodale felt that this was an important tournament for Richie, an opportunity to prove he was back. Guess we can check that off the to do list.
Rutgers returns to the mat this Friday when it travels to western Pennsylvania to take on Lock Haven.