Freshman Joe Ritzen of Chadron became the 16th Chadron State College wrestler to win a championship at the rugged Cowboy Open Tournament at the University of Wyoming last weekend.
Ritzen did it by winning all five of his matches at 131 pounds in the Amateur, or younger, Division. The 2017 Chadron High graduate, who was a two-time silver medalist at the Nebraska State Tournament and is the Cardinals’ all-time winningest wrestler, pinned four opponents and won a 6-4 decision in the semifinals.
His final pin came in the finals when he flattened Elijah Ozuna of Clackamus Community College in Oregon in the second period.
Seven of the Eagles’ previous Cowboy Open champions, dating back to Dan Barent in 1982, have gone on to become All-Americans. Besides Barent, the others who won at Wyoming and placed at the National Tournament, are Mike Max, Tony Dammen, Justin Hoopman, Jason Dye, Jimmy Savala and current CSC head coach Brett Hunter, who was a two-time national champ.
Hoopman is the Eagles’ only two-time champion at the tourney. He won the 150-pound title in Laramie in both 1995 and ’97.
“Joe’s tough, never quits and got his career off to a great start,” Hunter said. “The guys he beat included a junior college All-American and a nationally-ranked juco wrestler.
Another CSC entry, redshirt freshman Chance Karst of Powell, Wyo., was third at 141 pounds in the Amateur Division. He won four of his five matches.
Hunter said Karst is moving down to 133 pounds and Ritzen and nearly all the other freshmen will redshirt this season.
Kyle Stevens, a freshman from Polk, Neb., went 3-2 Saturday at 174 pounds.
The results for Eagles who won at least twice at the Cowboy follow:
CSC’s results in the Amateur Division:
125—Evan Smith, CSC, pinned Michael LeFuel, Great Falls, 1:52; Cody Fatzinger, unattached, major dec. Smith 13-5; Smith dec. John Kuhn, Northwest Kansas Tech, 6-0; Nick Kunz, unatt, dec. Smith 6-3.
125—Aaron Cashman, unatt, major dec. Stephen Debelko, CSC, 8-0; Debelko dec. Mike LeFuel, Great Falls, 15-13; Debelko pinned Ryan Piearce, NW Kansas Tech, 4:02; Tate Withington, NW Kan. Tech. 16-0.
133 pounds—Joe Ritzen, CSC, pinned Kedric Coonis, Western Wyoming, 5:30; Ritzen pinned Brennon Vels, Mont. State-Northern, 4:58; Ritzen pinned Terrell Banuelos, Central Christian, 4:19; Ritzen dec. Otis Rollins, Colby Comm. College, 6-4; Ritzen pinned Elijah Ozuna, Clackamus Comm. College, 3:37 for first place.
141—Chance Karst, CSC, pinned Marc Farina, Colorado Mesa, 4:08; Karst pinned Andrew Gomez, unattached, 3:25; Taylor Gambill, Colorado Mines, pinned Karst, 42 seconds; Karst major dec. Farina, 20-8; Karst dec. Gomez 6-5 for third place.
174—Kyle Stevens, CSC, pinned Dan Pacheco, unattached, 1:42; Stevens pinned Jordan Wesley, Colby, 2:32; Stevens pinned Barry Carpenter, NW Kansas Tech, 3:37; Robert Gambrell, unattached, technical fall Stevens 17-2; Matt Hebel, Western Wyoming, pinned Stevens, 36 seconds.
197—Isaac Bartel, Mont. State-Northern, pinned Matt Kindler, CSC, 6:10; Kindler pinned Christian Robb, unattached, 2:04; Kindler dec. Khalil Gibson, unattached, 4-2; Kindler pinned Donavon Rincon, unatt, 4:07; Bartel major dec. Kindler 13-0.
Hwt—Shane French, Western Wyoming, major dec. Andrew Wilson, CSC, 12-2; Wilson pinned Jordan Arbizo, NW Kansas Tech, 4:43; Wilson won by medical forfeit over Noah Dohm, unatt; Solomon Smith, unatt, pinned Wilson 5:40.
CSC results in Elite Division:
141—John Twomey, Air Force Academy, tech fall Josh Miller, CSC, 16-0; Miller major dec. Colton Stowe, AFA, 17-7; Miller dec. Lyle Plummer, AFA, 6:45; Josh Giorgio, AFA, tech. fall Miller 18-2.
149—Chase Clasen, CSC, pinned James Taylor NW Kansas Tech, 4:32; Sam Turner, Wyoming, dec. Clasen 5-2; Clasen dec. Jared Mestas, CSU-Pueblo, 10-6; Jaron Jensen, Wyoming, dec. Clasen 6-4.
184—Toby Ryals, AFA, major dec. Heber Shepherd, CSC, 8-0; Shepherd pinned Logan Foster, Mont. State- Northern, 2:15; Isaac Deaton, UNK, major dec. Shepherd 14-5.
Hwt—Brady Radik, UNK, dec. Rulon Taylor, CSC 4-1; Taylor medical forfeit over Kevin Barrett, UNK; Taylor dec. Robert Winters, Northern Colorado, 2-1; Jarrod Hinrichs, UNK, medical forfeit over Taylor.