Former six-time collegiate wrestling champion, Professional Bowl offensive lineman, and MMA fighter Carlton Haselrig handed away in his Johnstown, PA dwelling on July 22, 2020—reportedly on account of pure causes. He was 54 years of age. Amongst his many athletic achievements, Haselrig is finest know for his unparralleled success as a wrestler for Pittsburgh-Johnstown school within the late 80s.
For a few years, the winners of the NCAA D-II & D-III nationwide wrestling championships obtained invitations to compete within the NCAA D-I match—the premiere proving floor for collegiate athletic success. And over these years, it wasn’t remarkable for a couple of of those decrease tiered rivals to make some waves at DI nationals, however usually their presence was a matter of recognizing their achievement.
That each one modified with Carlton Haselrig.
After putting third his freshman 12 months at D-II nationals for Pitt-Johnstown at heavyweight, Haselrig made vital strides in his wrestling recreation. He grew to become identified for his agility and positional grace, usually demonstrating the footwork of a a lot lighter wrestler.
As a sophomore he started an unprecedented undefeated streak, working by means of D-II competitors, and incomes himself a bid on the DI nationals within the course of.
On the highest facet of the 1987 brackets, Edinboro’s Dean Corridor upset the #1 seed, future MMA standout Tom Erikson, to achieve the finals. Haselrig battled arduous, pinning Rod Severn (brother of Dan!) within the semifinals.
Haselrig and Corridor neutralized each other with their stable positioning and highly effective handfighting. The clock ticked down on the finish of the third interval, it appeared they’d go to additional time.
Maybe overzealous, Corridor thought to steal the match, taking a fast leg assault off the snap faux.
Unconvinced, Haselrig sprawled and downblocked, instantly passing by the arms to hit a match-winning go-behind on Corridor, avenging an earlier profession loss. That win for the D-II standout was the beginning of a run that will change school wrestling.
His junior 12 months, Haselrig ran by means of the D-II scene once more to earn one other bid at D-I nationals. He received by pin, pin, and main choice earlier than profitable comfortably over Rod Severn, making it to the finals the place he would dominate 12-2.
To the shock of nobody, Haselrig capped off his senior 12 months with out a loss, incomes his third D-I title and his sixth total NCAA championship. It had by no means been completed.
And after Haselrig did it, the NCAA made certain that it might by no means be completed once more.
Many D-I wrestlers and their supporters had been upset. The rigor of the D-I season, they argued, was incomparable to the opposite divisions. Basically, wrestlers like Haselrig had been capable of keep recent whereas wrestling an “straightforward” season, of their eyes. That slant doesn’t do justice to Haselrig’s run, nevertheless. Other than his D-II and match success, he was wrestling at D-I tournaments through the common season as properly—even defeating future Olympic champion Kurt Angle, and discovering himself toe-to-toe with the best American heavyweight of all time, Bruce Baumgartner.
Nevertheless, the appeals of his D-I competitors had been heard, and the NCAA determined to not provide DI nationwide bids to D-II & D-III champions.
They name it, “The Haselrig Rule”.
Carlton Haselrig set a normal that no wrestler will ever have the ability to match. Present Bellator prospect Joey Davis received 4 NCAA Division 2 titles with out a loss or a redshirt season, Cael Sanderson had 4 undefeated Division 1 seasons, however with the principles standing as they’re now, nobody will ever beat Haselrig’s six titles.
Regardless of his apparent promise on the mats, Haselrig opted for a profitable profession within the NFL, relatively than chase an Olympic dream.
Battles with substance abuse ended Haselrig’s temporary, however distinguished NFL profession. However, after spending time recuperating and therapeutic together with his household in Johnstown, the itch to compete returned.
Carlton Haselrig fought in blended martial arts 5 occasions between 2008 and 2009. His final bout, a loss to collegiate soccer participant and future UFC fighter Shawn Jordan.
Haselrig’s legacy and the main points of his outstanding story had been captured in a collaborative effort with Coach Kevin Emily in his biography, Big Killer. Haselrig and Emily self-published the novel and appeared collectively on the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Championships in Pittsburgh.