ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Dean Heil has never been satisfied with doing anything once.
A four-time state champion for St. Edward, the Oklahoma State junior and Brunswick resident came into the NCAA Division I Nationals as the defending 141-pound champion.
He walked out of the Scottrade Center on Saturday a two-time defending champ with a 6-3 victory over George DiCamillo (Virginia/St. Ignatius).
In doing so, Heil became the first wrestler in Medina County history to win multiple national titles. He also is the Cowboys’ 142nd champion.
“I don’t really look at it as defending the title,” Heil said at a press conference. “A lot of guys’ dreams are to win a national championship. I just had the opportunity to win my second, and I’m blessed for that. But at the same time, I’d have to say winning my first one was a lot tougher just because the whole experience was different — the environment, the crowd.”
Last year, Heil came in as the top seed and beat Bryce Meredith of the University of Wyoming in the finals 3-2 thanks to a first-period takedown.
That match took place at Madison Square Garden, so the stage was a little more intimidating.
Not that it matters to Heil, who has always embraced the enormity of situations with the drive and determination of a champion.
Now a three-time All-American, when he reached the finals Saturday it was more a business as usual type attitude.
The championship brought a very familiar face in DiCamillo. The two met at the Southern Scuffle earlier in the year, where Heil won.
In high school, the St. Edward graduate wrestled DiCamillo once at the Ironman and again at state. Heil avenged his Ironman loss in the 2010 state semis.
Fast forward to the national finals and experience played a role.
“George was new to it,” Heil said. “Three years in a row he got knocked out in the blood round, not even experiencing the semifinals, or in this case the finals. This time, I could feel the timidness, the nerves he had, whereas I had been there. I had experienced it. I knew what to expect. I felt so calm going into that match.”
That showed when Heil scored on a takedown halfway through the first period.
He added another with 42 seconds left in the third and warded off a late attempt by DiCamillo.
“It’s just another match,” Heil said. “The only difference is it’s in front of a lot more people on a stage. The last time I wrestled George in an official match, aside from the Scuffle, was my freshman year in high school. He’s just another opponent.
“Going into (Saturday), I was like, ‘There’s nothing to worry about. It’s just another match. I’ve been here. He hasn’t.’ I think that’s why I had the upper hand. I could feel it. I could just sense in the first period that he had the nerves. He was weak. I could just feel that he was just a little more scared and timid, whereas I felt strong and I took advantage of that.”
Heil finished the season 32-0 and extended his winning streak to 41 matches.
The already huge bull’s-eye on his back will be a little bigger as he looks to end his career next season in Cleveland at the 2018 Nationals with his third crown.
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.