Neck Ailment Ends Heavyweight's Career
Brett Correll had his career cut short after neck problems rendered him ineligible to wrestle ever again. Courtesy of Paul Hokanson / UB Athletics
Junior Brett Correll was arguably the third-best wrestler remaining at UB. With Desi Green gone due to drug issues and John-Martin Cannon expected to redshirt this year, Correll was expected to carry a huge weight as the main guy.
His neck couldn't handle it.
Correll, Buffalo's lone wrestler in the 285-lb. weight class, was barred this season from ever competing again because of degenerative problems with his neck.
The heavyweight was set to have an outstanding year. Correll posted a 20-19 record last season, placed fourth at the MAC Championships, and made his first trip to the NCAA Championships after a season of success.
"We've [had] a very capable heavyweight and he isn't going to be able to compete for us," said head coach Jim Beichner. "Here's a guy we certainly counted on, but [the injury] is of no fault of his own. Life throws you curves sometimes, and we deal with it."
Correll's disability is a common one among wrestlers. The increased weight of competition in the heavyweight division leads to increased strain on the wrestler's neck/back/spinal area – something of which both Beichner and Correll were fully aware.
Correll was at an even greater risk because his family has a history of neck problems; both of his parents had surgery to fix herniated disks in their vertebrate. But he wasn't about to let genetics hold him back.
"I didn't really hold anything back. I didn't protect myself because I wanted to get that extra point early in my career," Correll said. "I knew the risks and accepted it."
The probability finally caught up with him in a match against Kent State. Correll got in a bad position against his opponent and landed headfirst on the mat, injuring his neck.
His condition gradually deteriorated until it recently rendered him ineligible to wrestle.
"I was like: ‘Was this really happening?'" Correll said. "I was in disbelief. The other part of me knew in the back of my mind that…this could be it."
The wrestler was heartbroken. However, the aid of the wrestling program and UB is helping him move forward. Correll will still be riding on financial aid so he can finish his final two semesters.
"I'm very proud of where [wrestling] has brought me," Correll said. "The University at Buffalo is coming through, they're helping me out, they're sticking with me and protecting me to help me do what I need to do."
The Bulls have struggled to fill the void Correll has left in the heavyweight class. Beichner was forced to move up lighter wrestlers to compete at the 285-lb. weight class and they've all failed. Buffalo is currently winless in the weight class and its most recent attempt saw 197-lb. senior Tyler Peter lose by technical fall, 20-5.
However, Beichner remains optimistic that his team will be able to overcome this obstacle.
"We're doing the best we can," Beichner said. "We've faced adversity many other times and quite often we've come out on top. I don't expect anything different from our guys."
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