As has long been a tradition, the Chadron State College wrestling team will launch its season at the Cowboy Open Tournament at the University of Wyoming on Saturday. About 25 Eagles are expected to participate, coach Brett Hunter said.
The team was jolted this fall when four veterans, all team leaders, were suspended following a hazing incident, but Hunter said all the other grapplers who enrolled in August remain on the team and the practices which began Oct.10 have been going well.
”We have a lot of good wrestlers, particularly younger ones,” Hunter said. “We may take some lumps this season, but I believe our future is bright. We were able to bring in an excellent group of recruits.”
The Cowboy Open, which usually draws about 400 wrestlers from 40 schools, divides the entries into two groups—Elite for juniors and seniors, and Amateur for freshmen and sophomores.
Hunter is one of 15 CSC wrestlers who have won their weight class at the rugged tournament. He was the 165-pound champion as a sophomore in 2006. J
The Eagles’ active roster includes five letterwinners, seven returning squad members, four transfers and 11 freshmen. There are no seniors on the roster.
Two full-time starters from last season, when the Eagles had a 7-2 dual record, are back. They are Johnny Porter, who had a 9-17 record at 157 pounds, and Matt Kindler, who went 16-14 at 197 as a true freshmen after winning two Class C state championships at David City Aquinas
In addition, Brock Thumm was 12-8 while starting part-time at 141 and Rulon Taylor was 6-8 at heavyweight last season. Also, Josh Miller has returned after recovering from a shoulder injury that sidelined him last season. He had a 14-13 record as the Eagles’ primary 141-pounder in 2015-16.
Among the redshirts expected to excel is Chance Karst of Powell, Wyo., where he was a three-time state champion. He had a 17-6 record in open tournaments last season at 133 pounds, where last year’s top senior, Taylor Summers, was the starter. Summers is helping coach the Eagles this season.
Transfers are making a strong bid for varsity slots, Hunter said. They include Chase Clasen, a national junior college tournament qualifier at Iowa Western last season; Jacob Otuafi, once a Nevada state champion who wrestled at Boise State the last two years; and Heber Shepherd, a Utah state champion and one of the top wrestlers at Northwest College at Powell, Wyo., the last two years.
Shepherd won the Amateur Division’s 184-pound title at last year’s Cowboy Open.
A fourth transfer, Adrian Cisneros, missed the postseason a year ago at California’s Mount St. Antonio College because of an injury.
Three of the freshmen are standouts from the Panhandle. They are Joe Ritzen, a two-time state tourney silver medal winner for Chadron High, and Rob Price and Ben Rodriguez, graduates of Scottsbluff’s outstanding mat program. Rodriguez is a two-time state champion and Price placed second and third at state before being injured most of last season.
Other freshmen who were state champions are Nebraskans Grant Albrecht at Raymond Central and Kyle Stevens at High Plains at Polk, Bryan Wais of Spokane, Wash., and Aaron Trujillo, a two-time gold medalist for Valley High at Gilchrist, Colo.
Other freshmen include Stephen Dabelko of Coronado High at Colorado Springs, a two-time state tourney silver medalist, and Devin Stork, a South Dakota state runner-up at Canton last winter.
Hunter also has welcomed back Evan Smith, a 2014 Wyoming state champion for Campbell County High at Gillette. Smith previously enrolled at CSC, dropped out, but has returned.
The coach added that promising redshirt Jacob DeSersa, a South Dakota state champion who won more than 200 matches at Hot Springs, won’t compete at the Cowboy Open because of an injury.
The Eagles will have their annual Cardinal and Black Classic scrimmage at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Nelson Physical Activity Center.
2017-18 Chadron State College Wrestling Roster
Wgt. Name, Hometown Yr.
125 Stephen Dabelko, Colorado Springs, Colo. Fr.
125 Marcus Hutcherson, Bakersfield, Calif. Fr.
125 Evan Smith, Gillette, Wyo. Jr.
133 Chance Karst, Powell, Wyo. Fr.
133 Rob Price, Scottsbluff, Neb. Fr.
133 Joe Ritzen, Chadron, Neb. Fr.
141 +Adrian Cisneros, Fontana, Calif. Jr.
141 *Josh Miller, Bennett, Colo. Jr.
141 Ben Rodriguez, Scottsbluff, Neb. Fr.
141 *Brock Thumm. Watervliet, Mich. Jr.
141 Aaron Trujillo, Gilchrest, Colo. Fr.
149 Grant Albrecht, Valparaiso, Neb. Fr.
149 +Chase Clasen, Moses Lake, Wash. Jr.
149 Jacob DeSersa, Hot Springs, S.D. R-Fr.
149 Caleb Haskell, Madison, Neb. So.
149 Steven Lahnert, Cheyenne, Wyo. R-Fr.
157 +Jacob Otuafi, Sparks, Nev. So.
157 *Johnny Porter, Bellevue, Neb. Jr.
165 Bryan Wais, Spokane, Wash. Fr.
174 Ethan Haddock, Ridgecrest, Calif. Jr.
174 Kyle Stevens, Polk, Neb. Fr.
184 +Heber Shepherd, Spanish Fork, Utah Jr.
184 Devin Stork, Canton, S.D. Fr.
197 *Matthew Kindler, David City, Neb. So.
Hwt. *Rulon Taylor, Curtis, Neb. Jr.
Hwt. Andrew Wilson, Albuquerque, N.M. R-Fr.
Head Coach: Brett Hunter, Coaching Assistants: Reed Burgener, Taylor Summers.