American University to hoist first national champion banner
American University will hoist its first Wrestling National Championship banner to the rafters of Bender Arena, permanently commemorating the achievements of Josh Glenn and his 2006-07 season.
On hand to witness this special occasion will be alumni of the wrestling program who not only paved the way for Glenn as student-athletes but also saved the program from extinction.
Amid budget cuts and financial tightening in 2002, the AU Department of Athletics and Recreation was faced with the harsh realization that the wrestling program may be cut. To save the program, Alan Meltzer, a prominent alumnus and four-year member of the wrestling team, stepped forward and brought together a group of alumni and donors who literally saved the team.
Meltzer?s group of supporters including Loren Danielson, Jack Haire and Jack Cassell, convinced the university to recommit resources to the program and solidified the team?s donor base. With its newfound resources, the AU wrestling team was able to purchase new equipment, improve facilities and travel to more tournaments.
?Alan was a workaholic and an intense, competitive person since the day I met him,? former AU Head Coach Dr. Robert Karch said. ?He?s a legend. He?s been very generous to American, not just in money, but in the time and effort he puts in to help many people in many different ways.?
The support of Meltzer and others also helped to bring in Head Coach Mark Cody who in his years as an assistant was vital to the success of nationally renowned programs such as Missouri, Oklahoma State and most notably Nebraska, where he spent 12 seasons. Coach Cody has been responsible for rebuilding the AU team from the ground up and in just five season has produced the program?s first-ever National Champion, four All-Americans including AU?s first wrestling All-American, multiple Academic All-Americans, four EIWA Champions and 11 NCAA Qualifiers.
Two of Coach Cody?s recruits have served as the face of AU wrestling during the program?s resurgence.
Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov, a 2007 graduate, completed his final year of eligibility with the Eagles during the 2005-06 season and became just the second All-American in program history. Abdurakhmanov posted a 27-1 overall record during that season and placed fourth at the NCAA Championships. Abdurakhmanov, a three-time Uzbekistan National Champion, transferred to AU after two seasons at Colby Community College where he won back-to-back National Championships. After exhausting his eligibility, Adburakhmanov returned to AU to finish his degree in Russian last year and joined the team as a student-assistant. This year he will remain with the team as an assistant to Coach Cody.
The other centerpiece to AU wrestling?s turnaround has been senior Glenn. A two-time EIWA champion and two-time All-American, Glenn captured AU wrestling?s first National Championship last season. Moving up a division to 197 lbs., Glenn tore through his competition en route to a 27-1 overall record. Glenn defeated Kurt Backes of Iowa State in the championship match during sudden-death overtime, 6-4. During his sophomore season, Glenn entered the NCAA Championships ranked No. 1 at 184 lbs. and placed fourth in the tournament, earning his first All-America honor. In just three seasons Glenn has moved into third-place on AU?s all-time wins list with 91.