Troy Keller '18
“I feel free. I feel like there’s no other place I want to be. I can’t even think of anything beyond that second. That’s why I’m drawn to the fight because I love the presence of it – where it brings me mentally. It is the purest thing for me.” UFC fighter “Suga” Rashad Evans shared this advice when interviewed about facing your fears and growing into a successful individual no matter what you are against. Before becoming a famous UFC fighter, Rashad attended NCCC and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Humanities and Social Science. During his time here, Rashad wrestled for the Thunderwolves and became 1 of 4 students to become a national champion. Troy Keller, 2018 NCCC Liberal Arts and Science graduate, has now become number 5.
“I was 4 years old when I began wrestling,” said Troy. “My dad used to tell me how he wrestled in high school and ever since then I wanted to learn. One day he brought me to a youth practice and I’ve been wrestling ever since then!”
A North Tonawanda native, Troy chose to attend NCCC because it was not only close to home, but also presented new opportunities in his wrestling career while still allowing him to explore which major he wanted to pursue. “I knew that if I decided to go to college, I wanted to wrestle to have some fun during my education. Having tournaments and practices to look forward to made my time at NCCC an even better experience.”
And better it was. His freshman year, Troy qualified for the NJCAA Wrestling National Championship where he fell just short of first place. “I hate losing and I had to live with that feeling,” Troy said. “I was willing to do anything to improve myself and reach my end goal of becoming a national champion.”
After countless hours of practice and training, Troy came back stronger than ever. His coach, Keith Maute, described him as “dominant” with “no one even in the same ballpark as him.” Coming in to his second national championship, Troy was ranked second overall. “I wasn’t worried about my ranking because I knew I had done everything I could to win,” said Troy. “Before my national finals match, I was nervous, but excited. I had to keep in my mindset that I controlled the match and I was going to win. It was the longest 7 minutes of my life…”
During the championship match, Troy dominated top-seed Wyatt Jordan, defending champion from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, in a 10-0 major decision. “It was a feeling I still can’t describe,” said Troy. “I was just so happy.”
Troy is now 1 of only 5 students who have attended NCCC to become a national champion in wrestling. He joins the ranks of Willie Moore ’77, Mark Jurek ’89, Dan Uhteg ’91, and Rashad Evans ’00. He also reserved his spot in NCCC history by breaking Shay Shive’s all-time record of 88 wins with 90 wins and shattered the technical fall record of 16 with 39 overall.
His coach has described him as “one of the best”, but Troy continues to stay humble. “It feels great to be labeled as one of the best and is truly an honor especially coming from Coach Keith who has worked with so many amazing athletes,” said Troy. “I feel as though my hard work and dedication have truly paid off, but I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and teammates at NCCC. It was with their encouragement that I pushed myself on the mat and in the classroom.”
This fall Troy is attending the University at Buffalo to pursue his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and will continue on his wrestling career with the D1 institution.