P O W E L L, W y o. - Uintah High School graduate Patrick Sharp paced the Northwest College Wrestling Team to the 2004 national championship and earned personal glory for himself as well with a second place individual finish.
Wrestling at 133 pounds, Sharp helped the NWC Trappers of Powell, Wyo., rewrite the record books at the National Junior College Athletic Association Wrestling Championship tournament Feb. 27 and 28 in Rochester, Minn.
The Trappers post ed 155.5 points to claim top do g honors, the most recorded by a single team during the entire 44-year history of the tournament. California's Lassen College was a distant second, posting 89.5 points, followed by Iowa Central Community College (87.5), North Idaho College (82) and Kansas' Colby Community College (78.5).
The NWC grapplers were ranked first in the nation before they even hit the mats this season and never surrendered their position. And for the first time in its history, Northwest College qualified a wrestler for the national tournament in all 10 weight categories.
Sharp figured prominently in that success story. The sophomore All-American scrapped his way to a second place finish at the tournament, posting a 23-9 record for the season, with only one loss to another junior college opponent.
"Pat is our little tough man," NWC Wrestling Coach Jim Zeigler said. "He's what we call hard-nosed tough, the kind of guy who comes to practice with his knuckles beat up from working on his truck, turning wrenches, and dirt on his pants from working on one of the local farms before practice. He's the kind of kid that doesn't tolerate anybody who quits or wimps out. Quit is just not part of his vocabulary. Three years at NWC is evidence enough for me."
Sharp's tenacity was put to the test during his years at Northwest. An outstanding high school recruit, his first season was cut short by a knee surgery. Just when he got back on his feet and was looking forward to a promising second year, he suffered a second knee injury and had to have a second knee surgery. These injuries cost him two seasons - half a lifetime for a college wrestler. But he made up for lost time during his third year by finishing as the national runner up in his weight class.
"Anyone who ever watches him wrestle one time can tell this guy is nonstop from the first whistle to the last," Zeigler said. "Through pain, injury, fatigue or frustration, it doesn't matter. He never ever quits. And for that he's not only our little tough guy, he's our spark plug."
Zeigler said he doesn't have to worry about his wrestlers whining or making excuses because Sharp just won't tolerate it.
It's wrestlers like Sharp that Zeigler credits for his own 2004 national coach of the year designation. "They make me look good," he said.
Zeigler has carved a reputation for his coaching philosophy, which includes monthly team/family dinners, regular off-the-mat team/family activities and weekly (sometimes twice-weekly) compulsory academic study halls for the whole team . He recruits young wrestlers on the basis of their athletic potential and character.
Sharp plans to continue his wrestling and business administration studies next year at an NCAA Division I School.
His parents are David and Liz Sharp of Vernal.