Shippensburg University’s Boxing Club finished the 2017-18 season with three fighters competing at the 2018 National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) National championships April 5-7.
SU finished the season strong as Tylik Guilford and Canar Morrison finished as Silver Medalists at the NCBA Nationals at Ike Hall at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Newcomer Cameron Hines also qualified for nationals and lost to the eventual national champion.
“This is the most that I’ve ever sent to National finals,” volunteer coach Travis Wylie said. “When I reflect over the course of this season, it’s no shock to me that the three representatives I had at Nationals were there because these guys pushed themselves at practice every time I was there.”
Hines received a tough draw at nationals, having to fight the eventual champion in the first round of the tournament. Cameron had a breakthrough season this year and as he increased his commitment he found more success, Wylie said.
“As far as matches go, Cameron had a tough first-round opponent,” Wylie said. “The truth is, at this level everyone is good, so all the matches about gave me a heart attack, but I couldn’t be more proud of the grit of my fighters.”
Guilford went into Nationals for the fourth time in his career. Guilford, a decorated fighter that already had two regional championships to his name, battled through a cold and congestion in his chest to get through two matches to reach the championship before running into a tough draw, according to Wylie.
“Even through all that he battled through two tough matches and ran into a buzz saw in the finals, but still had a great performance,” Wylie said. “I wish he was feeling 100 percent, but that is life and you have to learn how to overcome adversity. He’s done that throughout his life, which is why I have no doubts that he will be a success in whatever he does.”
Despite the silver medal, Guilford was not satisfied with second place, but is content with how the program has continued to build.
“I wasn’t happy with my finish, but I am content even though I personally lost in the finals,” Guilford said. “Shippensburg finished with two fighters who placed second in the nation. That is a victory in its own right, knowing where this program has come from.”
Morrison’s route to his silver medal was extremely difficult in its own right, as he faced a tough battle in the first round before advancing to the finals, where he lost on what Wylie thought was a tough decision.
Canar’s first match in the quarterfinals was fantastic,” Wylie said. “I think it may have been his best performance I’ve ever seen. There was no one in the nation who could have beat him that night. He beat a guy from PSU in the semifinals and had a great fight in the finals. I thought he landed the cleaner shots, but perhaps wasn’t quite active enough. For him to get this experience in only his sophomore year is amazing. I’m looking forward to two more seasons with him and truly the sky is the limit.”
For Morrison, who competed at the 165-pound weight class, the experience was amazing and something that he believes allowed him to accomplish the goal he set for himself this season.
“Nationals this year was an amazing experience,” Morrison said. “Although it’s a busy schedule, there’s nothing quite like being with your teammates and be surrounded by people who love boxing as much as you do. We all want to win and be No. 1, but after reflecting on the tournament, second is still very good and I still have two more years to go after the belt.”
While Morrison will return, Guilford wraps up his career, happy to see that the team has become one of the best in the East Region.
“Something that I happy about is the fact that I can look back and say I was an influential part in the Shippensburg Boxing Club’s progression, and that I loved every second of fighting for and alongside Coach Travis [Wylie] and Coach Isaiah [Varisano] and my teammates throughout my career here at Shippensburg,” Guilford said.
Morrison also thanked his volunteer coaches for everything they do for the boxing club.
“We wouldn’t have a team without them,” Morrison said.
Overall, Wylie was pleased with the 2018 season and where the team ended up.
“Overall, I’m very pleased with the season we had,” he said. “I had a couple new guys that have a lot of potential. It was one of our most active seasons as far as the number of competitions that Shippensburg had a boxer representing the university.”
Alongside the three boxers at nationals, former boxing club member Brett Pastore had a strong April as well, finishing second at the New York Metro Golden Glove Tournament, while getting to fight in the finals at legendary Madison Square Garden, which has played host to some of the biggest fights in boxing history.
“Brett is a one of a kind person,” Wylie said. “I’ll never have a workhorse quite like him. Just an all-around genuine person with a drive that is second to none. I’m not surprised at all that he had the success he did and to have one of my fighters make it to the finals and compete at Madison Square Garden is quite an honor. I’m looking forward to seeing where that guy is going to go because I know he is going to be a success.”
Wylie commended his three fighters competing at the national stage for the work they have put in this season, as well as the relationship he has formed with them outside the ring.
“I’m thankful to have these guys on my team,” he said. “They are great young men and I’ve established a great relationship with them and love these guys as if they were a younger brother. Being their coach, I get to see them develop as boxers and as human beings during their time at Ship. I have no doubts that all three of these individuals are going to be successful in life and I truly feel boxing is the greatest development tool there is.”