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Phil Sullivan, Cal Poly’s first NCAA Division II champ, passes at 76


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Phil Sullivan, Cal Poly's first NCAA Division II national wrestling champion, passed away early Saturday morning, May 24, 2020, in Visalia, Calif.

Sullivan was 76.

A two-time letterman in wrestling at Tulare Western High School, Sullivan earned a pair of CIF-Central Section titles. There was no state meet at the time Sullivan competed in wrestling.

Sullivan graduated from Tulare Western in 1962. He competed on Cal Poly's freshman wrestling team in 1963 and was a redshirt in 1964.

As a redshirt sophomore for the 1964-65 season, Sullivan went undefeated en route to the NCAA Division II national championship at 177 pounds. In the finals at Golden, Colo., he won by referee's decision after battling Mel Schmidt of Northern Illinois to a 3-3 draw in regulation and 0-0 in overtime.

Named the team's most outstanding varsity wrestler, Sullivan led the Mustangs to a second-place finish, three points behind Mankato State.

After leaving Cal Poly, Sullivan worked primarily as a handyman and also served as a wrestling coach for the Hillside Wrestling Club as well as at Wasco High School for many years. Among his inventions was the HIEXS (High-Intensity Exercise System) for training wrestlers and other athletes.

Sullivan was born in Arizona on March 31, 1944. Preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette, in 2001, Phil is survived by a son, Phillip Jr. Another son, Andrew, died in an automobile accident.

A graveside service will be held Monday, June 29, 2020, at 10 a.m. at North Tulare Cemetery. A Celebration of Life will follow the service. Peers-Lorentzen Funeral Service in Tulare is handling arrangements.

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