Shields aims to recapture wrestling championship

Mercyhurst College senior Josh Shields is attempting to capture the school’s second individual NCAA title this season.Mercyhurst College senior Josh Shields is attempting to capture the school’s second individual NCAA title this season.In 2009, Mercyhurst College senior Josh Shields won an NCAA wrestling title. He won it during his sophomore season and remains the only athlete at Mercyhurst to hold an individual NCAA title.

“It’s an awesome feeling knowing that the work you put in the past 18 years has paid off,” Shields said. “I have worked almost my entire life to be an NCAA champion, and I accomplished that goal.”

Head coach Mike Wehler, who has been coaching at the college level since 2004, came to the Lakers in 2007. He says that Shields is the toughest kid he’s ever coached, and his mental toughness is unmatched.

“I don’t think you can top him winning,” Wehler said.

His winning capabilities is possibly the reason why Shields has landed top five in the national tournament each year he has been in competition.

During his first year of competition, he wrestled in the 174-pound weight class and placed 4th in the national championships.

In 2008-09, Shields went to 165 and since then has only lost to two Division II opponents.

“He makes my job a lot easier,” Wehler said. “He’s the type of guy that leads by example and is also vocal.”

For Shields, winning might not stop at one title.

“I believe if I go out there and put everything on the line, there is no one in this country that can stop me,” Shields said.

For some athletes, the chance to claim another title may seem like a daunting task. What may be intimidating to others though is what Shields uses to help him attack his goal.

He also uses those emotions to help get him through the tough training his teammates and he endure.

“I know there are a lot of kids out there that want to be an NCAA champ, so to beat them I must outwork them in the practice room” he said.

What motivates this champion is his last name.

“When I finish up my career and people look back and see what I accomplished, I want them to think that kid gave it everything he had. You have to have pride in what you do.”

In Wehler’s eyes, Shields is unmatched. It is not just how hard he works, but it is how he perfects all the extra things the right way.

“You always tell people what to do to win championships – but they take shortcuts,” Wehler said. “Josh doesn’t take shortcuts.”

Shields, a senior from Lower Burrell, plans to graduate in May with a degree in international business and a minor in economics.

After graduation, he plans to either accept a job offer from Douglas Labs in Pittsburgh or continue his education at Mercyhurst while serving as graduate assistant for the wrestling team.