(Neb.)- CSC Wrestlers Headed To Region Tourney
CHADRON, Neb. -- The Chadron State College wrestling team figures to have a tough row to hoe at the NCAA Division II Midwest Super Regional Tournament at New Mexico Highlands University this Friday and Saturday.
The Eagles have not been up to par this season following the departure of four veterans early in the season and health issues that have inflicted several of the team's remaining wrestlers.
In addition, the regional competition will be brutal.
A question is: Will Chadron State be able to qualify at least one wrestler for the national tournament for the 50th consecutive year?
Fifteen teams, stretching from California to Kansas and Oklahoma and reaching into Arkansas and Canada, make up the regional field. Eight of those teams are among the nation's top 25 in the rankings released late last week.
Five Eagles have winning records as the season winds down. They are redshirt freshman Chance Karst, 18-13 at 133 pounds; junior Brock Thumm, 16-7 at 141; redshirt freshman Jacob DeSersa, 11-7 at 149; junior Chase Clasen, 10-5 at 149; and junior Rulon Taylor, 17-11 at heavyweight.
Both Karst and Thumm missed several late-season matches because of illnesses. Coach Brett Hunter said Thumm has recovered and is close to being back at full strength, but Karst, who was hospitalized recently, did not make the trip to regionals.
DeSersa also was left at home after being injured in a match in which his opponent was disqualified for using an illegal slam during the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament on Feb. 3.
DeSersa, who battled a knee injury that threatened to end his season midway through the schedule, had pinned his first foe at the conference tourney and was awarded second place at his weight class, as well as All-RMAC Second Team honors.
The Eagles have good depth at 149 pounds and Clasen, who has won his last five matches, will fill that spot at regionals.
Taylor has been healthy all season and has won five of his last nine matches. Two of the losses were in overtime.
Hunter said sophomore Jacob Otuafi has improved and could be competitive at 157 pounds. He has an 11-14 record.
Veteran Johnny Porter, the only member of this year's team who was in the lineup at last year's regional tourney, also is scrappy. He has a 9-12 record at 165 pounds. He competed at 157 a year ago.
California Baptist University and Colorado State University-Pueblo will be the highest ranked teams at the regional showdown. They are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association poll. They finished first and second, in that order, at the RMAC Tournament.
St. Cloud State of Minnesota, Notre Dame of Ohio and Wisconsin-Parkside are the top three teams nationally.
The other Midwest Region teams ranked among the top 25 are 10, Simon Fraser, the Canadian team; followed by 12, Central Oklahoma; 14, Nebraska-Kearney; 16, Fort Hays State; 19, Western State; and 21, Colorado Mesa.
Thirty-one grapplers from the region are rated among the top 12 in their weight classes. There are four ranked wrestlers at 133, 149, 174 and heavyweight, three at 125, 165, 184 and 197, two at 141 and one at 157.
Three entries from the region have the top billing in their weight class. They are Eli Hale of Central Oklahoma at 125, and Pueblo teammates JaCobi Jones at 165 and JaVaughn Perkins at 184.
Both Jones and Perkins are Omaha North graduates. Both placed second at last year's regional showdown. Perkins finished fourth and Jones was eighth at the national tourney.
Three more Midwest wrestlers are ranked second nationally at their weights entering regionals. They are Payton Tawater of Colorado Mesa at 157 pounds, Tyler McLean of San Francisco State at 165 and Nolan Kistler of Cal Baptist at 174. Kistler won the 174 title at last year's regionals and placed fourth at nationals.
Also back this year after winning last year's regional crowns are Brandon Ball of Fort Hays State at 141, Keith Surber of UNK at 149 and Caleb Cotter of Central Oklahoma at heavyweight.
This year's national championships will be March 9-10 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
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