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Wisconsin-Parkside wrestler continues family legacy

Nick Becker began this season with 66 consecutive wins, a school record at Wisconsin-Parkside. Jamie Schwaberow / NCAA Photos

As Wisconsin-Parkside senior Nick Becker prepares for this year’s Division II Wrestling Championships, he has more on his mind than winning a third consecutive national title.

A family legacy also is at stake. Nick is the youngest of four Becker success stories at his school: Brad won the national championship at 157 pounds in 2006; Craig captured a national title at 149 pounds in 2010 and is now an assistant coach at Wisconsin-Parkside; and Kyle wrestled at 165 pounds and was an All-American.

“Wrestling is so emotionally demanding,” Nick Becker says. “My brothers have always picked me back up if I had a tough loss and helped me regain my motivation and keep striving.”

But even with his brothers’ support, one key figure will be missing at the championships this year. Jim Koch, the wrestling coach at Wisconsin-Parkside for 41 years who coached the three older Becker brothers and watched Nick grow up, was killed after he was struck by a car during the Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis.

Becker credits Koch for helping him contend with the psychological strains of his sport. “It’s just you and yourself when you step on the mat,” Becker says. “People can help you prepare, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to do it for yourself.”

This year, though, Becker says he will be wrestling his senior season for Koch, too.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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