The Chadron State College men’s wrestling team, which has had its ups and downs this season, will strive to regain some of its early momentum this Saturday, Feb 26, at the Super Region 6 Championships hosted by Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
Coach Brett Hunter said the competition will be brutal and any of the Eagles who place among the top three to qualify for the NCAA Division II National Tournament to take place in St. Louis on March 11-12 will probably have to wrestle his best and perhaps need to spring a couple of upsets.
The eight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference members with wrestling teams will participate, along with Nebraska-Kearney, Fort Hays State and Simon Fraser of Canada. Last year for the first time in 53 years, the Eagles did not have a national qualifier.
Kearney dominated last year’s tourney, scoring 121.5 points and qualified someone for nationals at every weight class. Mesa was second in the 2021 team standings with 78 points, followed by Colorado Mines with 57.4.
Individually, eight of the 10 regional champions last year are competing again this season. Among the exceptions is Fred Green of Mesa, who went on to become the 174-pound national champ.
The Eagles finished their dual schedule this season with a 5-5 record. Their wins were over Northeastern Junior College (43-0), San Francisco State (26-19), Adams State (23-17), New Mexico Highlands (46-3) and Colorado State-Pueblo (24-6). The losses were to Nebraska-Lincoln (31-9), Nebraska-Kearney (47-3), Colorado Mines (37-3), Colorado Mesa (38-6) and Western Colorado (43-9).
Nationally, Central Oklahoma is at the top of the rankings posted by Intermat Wrestling, followed by St. Cloud State of Minnesota, West Liberty of West Virginia and Kearney. Three RMAC teams also are in the top 20. They are Adams State, 6th; Mesa, 15th; and Western, tied for 20th.
At least 30 participants in this weekend’s action are ranked among the top 16 in their weight classes. Nearly every weight class has at least three nationally ranked grapplers from Region 6 teams, and four are ranked at 133 and 141 pounds and five at heavyweight.
Among the ranked heavyweights is the Eagles’ Mason Watt, a redshirt sophomore from Broomfield, Colo. He is No. 11 on the national list. Watt goes to regionals with an 8-2 record.
The records for other Eagles who will be competing this weekend include: 125—Quade Smith, Layton, Utah, 7-7; 131—Kobe Lepe of San Fernando, Calif., 9-7; 141–Ethan Leake of Clovis, Calif., 11-7; 157—Dean Neff of Jefferson, Wis., 5-8; 165—Preston Renner of Broomfield, Calif., 7-6; 174–Darwin Hull of Schertz, Texas, 11-9; and 197–Eli Hinojosa of Imperial, Neb., 7-8.
The Eagles will be open at 184 pounds this weekend because one of the team leaders, Rowdy Pfeil of Moorcroft, Wyo., suffered a broken arm during the dual at Colorado Mesa on Feb. 10.