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08-05-2013


UC Wrestlers Represent USA at World Beach Wrestling Tournament

 


The Dierken’s pose with fellow USA team members. From left to right, David Dierken, Christen Dierken, Jeff Funicello, Scott Wendel, and Jarett Payne.

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Williamsburg, Ky. - This past June, two University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) students represented the U.S.A. at the World Beach Wrestling Tournament held in Morocco. Former UC wrestlers, 2011 graduate Christen Dierken, and her husband, 2009 graduate, David Dierken, qualified through a national tournament in Carolina Beach and were two out of five wrestlers chosen to compete in Morocco May 30th through June 3rd.

After California native, Christen, and David, from Ohio, completed their high school careers as wrestlers, they both journeyed to UC in hopes of bettering their education and their athletic abilities. Little did they know that not only would they meet life-long friends, earn an outstanding education, and grow spiritually as Christians, but they met each other, fell in love, and got married.

During his five years at UC, David was a two-time national qualifier, trained with national champions, and later worked as a graduate assistant for the women’s wrestling program. Christen is a four-time All American, a two-time National Team Member, U.S. Open runner up, University National Champion, Jr. World Team Member, and Olympics Trial Qualifier. The couple credits their church (Corner Stone Community Church), UC’s BCM director, Dean Whitaker, each other, and God’s love for their motivation and support throughout their wrestling and college career.

“Through it all, Dean Whitaker was always there to provide advice and a good Christian perspective,” said Christen Dierken. “He has been a positive role model in both of our lives and he even married us. I was rather resistant to Christ at first but he still cared about me and helped me grow in faith.”

The couple remains humble about being selected to compete in Morocco where Christen received third place and David 5th. Only five individuals were taken from the United States and it was amazing that two of them are UC graduates. Beach Wrestling is different from regular wrestling matches because they compete right on the beach, in the hot sand. Although this experience was extraordinary and honoring to them, they have taken much more away from this trip than wrestling alone.

“Morocco is a Muslim country and there I was with my Bible in my backpack,” said David Dierken. “I was nervous because there, we really weren’t supposed to talk about Jesus so I found it uncomfortable at first. Then, a man excused himself from the dinner table because it was time for him to pray and that really made me think. Even though we had two totally different beliefs, I respected his dedication to prayer. It made me want to be more dedicated to my own faith and a stronger Christian.”

The couple found the people of Morocco to be extremely nice and more hospitable than most Americans. Even though it is a third world country and the people there have little, they had a lot to give in heart. “Even though there were language barriers since they spoke mainly French and Arabic, the people of Morocco would not hesitate to drop whatever they were doing to help us out,” said Christen Dierken. “Even though they had next to nothing, they were still happy people.”

Christen and David admitted that being a wrestler at any level has its moments of trying times and struggles. They are often faced with physical pain and endurance, emotional and mental exhaustion and difficulty cutting weight. They both said that even though they loved the sport, there were times where they thought about giving up and quitting. “It was a struggle,” said Christen. “We had to decide what we needed and wanted to do in order to reach our goals and be successful in our wrestling career. I knew I wanted to live a good Christian life and I had set goals for myself as a college wrestler that I was determined to meet. I knew I had to stay focused and I did so with the help of my peer, teammate, and friend, Cianah Hee. She is one of the people from UC that impacted me the most in wrestling. While practicing, I would be so tired and weak from cutting weight and ready to give up, but she would hold my head close to hers as we wrestled and tell me in my ear that Jesus died on a cross and suffered through beatings and torture so I would definitely be able to make it through this. Cianah (2012 UC graduate) gave me motivation to push through and do my best as a wrestler and as a Christian.”

Since the couple’s tournament in Morocco, they have visited Houston, Texas’ Wrestling Camp and trained with them. Just as they prepared for their World Beach Wrestling Tournament, they continue to cross-train in order to stay fit and ready to compete.

Christen and David Dierken participated earlier this year with a mission’s project in New York to help the victims of the Super Storm Sandy. They have greatly grown as Christians while at UC and have a heart for helping others in need. “Be mission-minded wherever you go,” said Christen. “God calls you to freely give. If you give, He will bless you.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit www.ucumberlands.edu. For more information on Patriot wrestling visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com.