Montgomery Mills Ends His Career as an All-American

Since the resurrection of the Westminster College Wrestling Program in 2017 (the original program was cut back in the 1970s), they have only had a handful of NCAA qualifiers but they have yet to reach the podium.  They also lost 2 of the more recent championship opportunities due to COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.  

However, Coach Tony Eierman has been building his program and they have been making steady improvements each season with recruits and retaining the quality athletes who trusted the process.  It would be hard to find someone who didn’t trust the process more than Senior Montgomery Mills. 

Mills had to deal with the 2 non-championship seasons and a foot injury that sidelined him for half a season during his career at Westminster.  However, throughout the previous seasons, you could tell he was improving and hadn’t reached his peak as he continued to work in the practice room.  

Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament:

Mills finished 3rd in his Regional Tournament, which meant he would be unseeded at the NCAA tournament and placed randomly against a top-ranked wrestler in the opening round.  His first round would be against the #5 ranked wrestler in the country from the national powerhouse Augsburg.  For the first period, it would appear Mills was in over his head as he found himself down 11-4 after being taken down 3 times.  However, Mills appeared calm and collected as he chose the down position to start the second period, confident in his abilities.  Like he had done in many matches during the regular season, Mills scored a reversal and pinned his opponent early in the second to advance to the quarterfinal round.  

As the tournament progressed, it didn’t get any easier for Montgomery as his next opponent would be the #4 ranked wrestler in the country from the host school University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  After the first three minutes of wrestling, Montgomery found himself in familiar territory down 13-2 heading into the second period.  Just like in the first round, Mills calmly chose down and earned an escape right away.  His opponent, Ben Kawczynski, felt confident in his takedown abilities and was able to score one takedown early in the second but Mills, being a tough wrestler on the bottom, quickly earned another escape.  About halfway through the period, Ben Kawczynski shot in on Mills again, but Mills was ready this time and was able to counter his opponent’s attack and was able to toss him straight to his back, and land on top with a half-nelson buried deep to secure the fall!  This pin was history in the making for not only Montogmery but for Westminster Wrestling.  By advancing to the semi-finals on Day 2 of the tournament, Mills became the first All-American in program history.  

Day 2 of the NCAA Tournament:

After securing All-American Status on Day 1, Mills would face the #1 ranked wrestler in the country in the semi-finals, with a shot at a national championship on the line.  Mills’ opponent, Massoma Endene, wasted no time in attacking and securing the first takedown of the match.  He would let Mills up quickly, not wanting to be reversed or placed in any danger.  Endene would do this two more times by the end of the period, pushing the score to 9-3 in his favor.  Mills, like his previous two matches, calmly and confidently chose the down position to start the second.  His opponent let him up, closing the gap to within 5.  Montgomery would for the next 2 periods attempt to secure a takedown with several close opportunities but to no avail.  His opponent was able to counter Montgomery’s takedown attempts and tried to keep his distance and not give up a takedown.  The only “scoring” that happened was a stall call thrown up with only 5 seconds left in the match.  The final score was 9-4, sending Mills to the Consolation Semis.  

In the consolation semi-final, Montgomery would face the #2 ranked wrestler in the country from Coast Guard.  Both wrestlers attempted to vie for position on a takedown but after several stalemates and solid counters, the score was 0-0 at the end of the first.  Following his pattern, Mills chose the down position to start the second period and quickly went to work on trying to score.  He confidently rolled his opponent, captured his leg and neck, and took his opponent straight to his back.  After a few seconds of adjustments, Montgomery Mills pinned the #2 wrestler in the country for pin number 3 of the tournament.  

In his last match of the tournament, Montgomery Mills would be wrestling for 3rd place against the #7 ranked wrestler in the country from Wilkes.  For his last match, Montgomery went about winning in a different way than his previous efforts, by scoring the first takedown.  After countering his opponent’s shot attempt, Mills spun around behind, broke his opponent down quickly, and secured a cradle, taking his opponent straight to his back, securing his fourth pin of the NCAA tournament and a 3rd place finish.  

In addition to his podium finish of 3rd place, Montgomery Mills was also awarded for having the most pins of the entire tournament out of all of the wrestlers.  By himself, Montgomery scored 20.5 team points, finishing 15th in the nation, which is incredible since a lot of other teams that finished below Westminster had more qualifiers.  

Below are the individual match-by-match results for Montgomery Mills at the NCAA DIII National Tournament.  

197 lbs.

Montgomery Mills (28-11) placed 3rd and scored 20.5 team points.

  • Champ. Round 1 – Montgomery Mills (Westminster) 28-11 won by fall over Parker Venz (Augsburg) 23-8 (Fall 3:23)
  • Quarterfinal – Montgomery Mills (Westminster) 28-11 won by fall over Ben Kawczynski (Wisconsin-La Crosse) 27-6 (Fall 3:58)
  • Semifinal – Massoma Endene (Wartburg) 28-0 won by decision over Montgomery Mills (Westminster) 28-11 (Dec 9-4)
  • Cons. Semi – Montgomery Mills (Westminster) 28-11 won by fall over Coy Spooner (Coast Guard) 8-3 (Fall 3:29)
  • 3rd Place Match – Montgomery Mills (Westminster) 28-11 won by fall over Cameron Butka (Wilkes) 39-4 (Fall 1:44)

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Written by Jonathan Bowen

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