(Neb.)- Thumm Taking CSC’s Hopes To National Wrestling Tourney
CHADRON, Neb. -- After it seemed improbable that he would even be able to compete at the NCAA Division II West Super Regional Wrestling Tournament the last weekend in February, Chadron State College's Brock Thumm will be mixing it up with the nation's best at the National Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this weekend.
Thumm is a junior from Watervliet, Michigan, and is the Eagles' only representative at the national tournament. He's one of 16 grapplers in the 141-pound bracket.
Thumm has a 20-8 record and will be tangling with Isaiah Royal, a redshirt freshman from Newberry University in South Carolina, in the opening round on Friday. One rating service has Thumm fifth in the weight class entering nationals. Royal is 22-13.
Since his hometown is only about four hours from Cedar Rapids, Thumm said something like 40 relatives and friends are expected to show up to watch him compete. He was a two-time Michigan State Wrestling Tournament champion, also won the 200 meters at the state track meet his senior year, was the senior class president and was an honor student
He's continued to do well academically at CSC, compiling a 3.44 GPA as a social science major.
Thumm had won the 141-pound championships at the Doane College and Warrior-Viking Open Tournaments and was rolling along with a 16-5 record when he began experiencing health problems in mid-January.
Somewhere along the way, he had contracted an infection and required medical attention. The ailment did not respond to treatment initially. He spent four days and three nights in the Chadron Community Hospital before he improved and began to recover.
He missed the Eagles' home duals with New Mexico Highlands and Adams State in late January, but insisted on going to the RMAC Tournament on February 3, even though he was definitely not up to par.
Coach Brett Hunter reluctantly agreed to let him try.
The results were not good. He lost both matches: The first 5-4 in overtime and the next to Andrew Schulte of Cal Baptist, one of the conference's best wrestlers. That score was ugly. Schulte won 18-3. Thumm admitted afterwards that he felt weak and realized early that he was in trouble.
While some of the Eagles entered the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Open on February 11, Thumm stayed on campus, continued to work on his conditioning and set his sights on getting ready for the regional tournament.
Thumm received a forfeit in the opening round at regionals, then edged fourth-seeded Austin Solari, the recently-crowned RMAC Champion from San Francisco State, 3-2 in overtime.
His semifinals opponent was Fort Hays State's Brandon Ball, the 2017 regional champion at 141 pounds and an 8-4 winner when he wrestled Thumm in mid-January. This time Thumm prevailed 2-1.
Cal Baptist's Schulte was the opponent again for the 141 championship match. He bested Thumm 8-4, but the score was much closer than the 18-3 technical fall when the pair had tangled two weeks earlier at the RMAC Tourney.
Hunter said he doubted Thumm would be able to wrestle again this season after he was hospitalized.
"He had every right to hang it up for the season. But he's a gritty kid. I'm happy for him in particular because he recovered and also because he qualified for the national tournament," the coach said.
The latter remark is almost an understatement when the whole story is told. The Eagles had sent at least one wrestler to the national tournament for 49 consecutive years and Thumm made it 50 straight.
"It's a really remarkable string, and Brock kept it alive for us," said Hunter, who concluded his wrestling career by winning his second national championship in 2009 with a Chadron State-best 133 victories.
Eleven of this year's 141-pound national finalists have at least 20 wins. The leader is Ball, who is on the bottom side of the bracket opposite Thumm, with 34. Cal Baptist's Schulte, who has a 19-3 record, is also on the bottom. Hunter said after watching him twice, he suspects Schulte will make the finals.
Lurking on the top side with Thumm is Darren Wynn of McKendree of Lebanon, Illinois. Wynn was the 141-pound national champion in 2016 and the runner-up at that weight last year, losing 6-5 in the finals.
With the way the bracket is set up, Thumm and Wynn can't meet until the semifinals. Hunter points out the semifinals are a good place to be, even if you don't win the match. That's because a wrestler who wins his first two matches at nationals and makes the semis is guaranteed to become an All-American.
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