By Con Marshall
The Chadron State College men’s wrestling team clinched the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championship with a 31-10 victory over Colorado State-Pueblo in the Chicoine Center on Saturday night.
The Eagles won seven of the 10 matches and earned bonus points in five of them.
It’s the first time Chadron State has won the conference title since 1995, when the championship was decided by a late-season tournament. This is the 12th year that the dual records have been the deciding factor.
Coach Brett Hunter’s team is now 7-0 against RMAC foes with the final dual coming up Thursday, Feb. 15. Since all the other teams in the conference have at least two losses, the Eagles have claimed the crown.
In anticipation that the Eagles would likely win Saturday night, RMAC Commissioner Chris Graham was in attendance and presented the team and its coaches with the championship plaque and banner.
The large number of enthusiastic students and others in attendance joined the nearly 40 team members and others in singing “We Are the Champions” during the championship celebration.
The four veterans who fill the lighter weights got the Eagles off to a great start in the dual. Each of them earned bonus points as Chadron State jumped out to a 21-0 lead.
Junior Quade Smith pinned his 125-pound opponent in 1 minute and 44 seconds, senior Quen Campbell scored a 21-4 technical fall in the 133-pound match, senior Ethan Leake pinned his 141-pound rival in 4:33 and graduate student Torry Early dominated at 149 pounds by a 14-1 margin for a major decision.
The visiting ThunderWolves won the next three matches, but the Eagles prevailed in the final three.
CSC sophomore Keegan Gehlhausen fell behind early against Pueblo senior Donn Greer in the 184-pound battle, but used his length (he’s 6-4) to good advantage to post seven points in the second period and win the 12-6 decision.
The Eagles unveiled a secret weapon at 197 pounds. Reece Jacobs, a true freshman, found success in his first collegiate varsity match.
Jacobs scored a 14-5 major decision over Pueblo’s Ben Gould, a junior who had won 16 of his 19 matches this season. Jacobs was able to counter Gould’s moves and turned them into points several times.
Jacobs is not a novice on the mat. Besides being an all-state linebacker at Brown High School at Sturgis, S.D., and receiving a scholarship to play football at CSC, he was a three-time South Dakota state champion wrestler and finished his senior season with a 52-0 record.
Coach Hunter has been hoping Jacobs could find a way to be a two-sport athlete for the Eagles, and it has happened.
Fifth-year senior Mason Watt wrapped up the dual with a 6-0 victory in the heavyweight match, boosting his season record to 16-2 and giving him 71 career victories.
After Watt had picked up Hunter and given him “a ride” around the mat during the victory celebration, the coach noted, “Something like this doesn’t happen very often.”
The dual results:
125—Quade Smith, CSC, pinned Decker Melinder, 1:14.
133—Quen Campbell, CSC, tech. fall Brandon Bigler, 21-5.
141—Ethan Leake, CSC, pinned Al Gunn, 4:31.
149—Torry Early, CSC, major dec. Anthony Nichols, 14-1.
157—Cyrus Meeks, CSU-P, major dec. Clayton Robinson 12-3.
165—Elijah Valdez, CSU-P, dec. Jaziah Whaley, 4-2
174—Solomon Ands, CSU-P, dec. Logan Berger, 10-8.
184—Keegan Gehlhausen, CSC, dec. Donn Greer, 12-6.
197—Reese Jacobs, CSC, major dec. Ben Gould, 14-5.
Hwt—Mason Watt, CSC, dec. Henry Sturn, 6-0