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By JEREMY HINES
Travis Barroquillo and Collin Crume developed an intense rivalry on the mat their senior seasons in high school. Back then they had no idea that they would eventually become college roommates and share the NAIA All-American stage together.
Barroquillo and Crume squared off in the Goshen regional final in 2011. Barroquillo won that match and then defeated Crume again a week later in the Ft. Wayne semistate championship. The two had very good showings in the state finals that year, both eventually losing only to state champion Neal Molloy of Danville.
Barroquillo lost to Molloy in the semifinals, and then went on to finish third. Crume fell to Molloy in the final, finishing second. Barroquillo finished his senior season with a 55-1 record. Crume ended his senior campaign with a 49-4 mark.
Now the two are teammates at Indiana Tech. They are roommates and workout partners. The relationship has pushed both wrestlers to a level they didnâ€™t think was possible.
Recently Barroquillo finished fourth at 133 pounds in the NAIA championships, and Crume finished seventh in the same weight class. Both earned All-American honors. In NAIA, schools can have multiple competitors from the same weight class competing.
The road to Indiana Tech was vastly different for the two wrestlers. Barroquillo, a Prairie Heights graduate, became the first wrestler to ever sign with Tech.
â€œMy sister went to Indiana Tech and it was pretty close to home,â€ Barroquillo said. â€œWhen I found out I could be the first to ever sign there, that really helped with my decision.â€
Barroquillo will graduate this spring with a degree in business management.
â€œI couldnâ€™t be where I am today without wrestling,â€ he said.
Techâ€™s first-year head coach Thomas Pompei had worked with both wrestlers when they were in high school.
â€œTravis has done everything for this program,â€ Pompei said. â€œHe put this program on the mat. He was a three-time All-American. These freshmen coming in can look up to him. Heâ€™s grooming freshmen to be like he was.â€
Tech finished the season ranked No. 3 in the NAIA polls. In addition to Barroquillo and Crume, the Warriors also had an All-American in Mitch Pawlak. Pawlak became Techâ€™s first NAIA champion this season when he claimed the 125-pound title.
Crume started his collegiate career out wrestling at Wisconsin Parkside. He then transferred to King University in Tennessee. He took a year off last year to help coach at Jimtown High School, before finally deciding to finish college at Indiana Tech.
â€œCoach Pompei was a great top wrestler, and that is probably my biggest strength,â€ Crume said. â€œHe helped me a lot with the technical side of everything. Before, I wasnâ€™t very technical at all.â€
Both Barroquillo and Crume said their favorite part of wrestling for Tech is the family atmosphere the team has.
â€œThe guys on that team are my family,â€ Barroquillo said. â€œEveryone pushes each other to get better.â€
Coach Pompei said his team has a good mix of wrestlers from mainly Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. He believes the talent pool in Indiana keeps getting better.
â€œI go on Team Indiana trips every year and the talent seems to be rising,â€ Pompei said. â€œYou have unbelievable studs coming through now. This year was a great year for Indiana. We won our regional and were sitting on the bus and everyone had their cell phones out watching the state finals. The talent level in Indiana is phenomenal.â€
At Tech, Pompei feels he gets the chance to help wrestlers peak.
â€œAt Indiana Tech we want someone that is coachable and willing to give everything he has at the next level to make our team better,â€ Pompei said. â€œThey donâ€™t have to be state champs. They have to be someone that can make people better in the process. A lot of the athletes we get havenâ€™t come close to peaking yet. I get to see them grow and become All-Americans and national contenders.â€