Now teammates on Mercer’s club team, Murdock placed fifth at 133 pounds to gain All-American status, while Farr finished fourth at 197.
Murdock and Farr join a growing list of local wrestlers who have recently been named all-Americans, including former McEachern star Brandon Westerman, Life’s Trey Hicks and Kennesaw Mountain product Ryan Maus.
Westerman, a junior at Campbellsville (Ky.) University, finished third at 141 pounds to claim All-America honors in the NAIA, while Hicks, a junior, was fifth at 184 to become the first All-American of Life’s inaugural season.
Maus, a junior at Truman State University in Missouri, collected his first All-America nod after placing third at 149 pounds at the NCAA Division II tournament.
High expectations were placed on Murdock as he entered the NCWA championships. A conference champion as a freshman, he was the No. 4-seed in the 133-pound bracket, and Murdock felt that falling short of all-America status would have been a disappointing end to his tournament.
“That was the goal coming in — to get all-America,” he said. “I won the conference championship the week before and heard the tournament was tough to get through. Winning that quarterfinals match was like winning state to me.”
Competing against 37 other wrestlers, Murdock defeated Liberty’s Joey Paddock 9-4 in his first match before edging Belleville’s Cooper Powell 3-1 in overtime in the round of 16.
“I was gassing during that match,” Murdock said.
Murdock guaranteed his all-America nod with a 12-5 quarterfinal victory over Dwayne Ross of Apprentice.
“The guys you face in the quarterfinals are almost always former state champions, so it feels great to get past that round,” Murdock said. “In talking to other guys on the team, they told me to just stay focused. The first two days of the tournament are the toughest, and as the No. 4 seed, people were gunning for me. I just had to be ready for anybody mentally.”
Murdock lost via pin to the top-seeded defending national champion, McKendree’s Brendan Murphy, in the semifinals. He then dropped a 5-4 decision California Baptist’s Dakota Thayer in the consolation semifinals.
Murdock’s 8-4 victory against South Florida’s Ryan earned him his fifth-place showing.
“I learned to be humble in high school,” said Murdock, who is majoring in biomedical engineering at Mercer and earned a 3.7 grade-point average in the fall, “so, coming in as a high seed didn’t mean anything. I just wanted to stay focused and try to do something special.”
Farr was looking to do something special as well. The junior was seeking his third all-America award after placing seventh at 285 pounds as a freshman and fifth at 197 as a sophomore.
Farr beat Stony Brook’s Michael Lloyd 22-7, California Baptist’s David Dill 11-5 and Cincinnati’s Benjamin Hogan 16-2 to reach the 197-pound semifinals. That guaranteed him another all-America spot.
Farr nearly pulled out a semifinal victory over eventual champion Julian Smith of McKendree, but he instead dropped a 7-6 match in regulation.
“If I had 2 more seconds, I would have won that match,” said Farr, a double major in marketing and economics and has a 3.96 GPA. “I had that guy in a cradle, but only got a 2-point near-fall.”
Farr went on to beat Dill again 7-1 in the consolation semifinals, but lost to Air Force’s David Reck 7-3 in the third-place match.
“I’m just really excited to be wrestling well,” Farr said. “God has blessed me with the ability to wrestle at the collegiate level, and to have this opportunity to be an all-American is a blessing.
“The competitive level of the guys we face is equivalent to Division II, especially at the national tournaments. During the season, we wrestle all levels from Division II to NAIA to Division III, so that when you get to nationals, you’ve already seen a lot of different styles and competition.”
Farr, who has improved his all-America placing every season since his freshman campaign, wants to go out on top.
“Next season, I want to go out with a national championship,” he said. “I was 2 seconds away from being in the finals this year, so I know I can do it.”
Former Walton wrestler Jake Francis, a senior a Georgia, almost claimed an all-America nod as well. He advanced to the quarterfinals of the 197 bracket, where he fell to Liberty’s Aaron Thompson. Francis lost his next match to Dill, denying him the shot at placing among the top eight.