The CSU club wrestling team’s season has come to an end, but not before one individual accomplished something never done before by a Rams wrestler.
Freshman KaMele Sanchez earned All-American honors, after placing third overall in the female 136-pound weight class at the NCWA National Meet in Kissimmee, Florida. Sanchez is the first ever All-American woman wrestler in CSU club history, going 3-1 at Nationals.
“I feel pretty great, it’s pretty awesome,” Sanchez said. “I thought my wrestling career was over in high school and I’m thankful to be here.”
Sanchez remained humble despite this achievement. She believes she simply needs to work on some tactical aspects of her game in order to win the meet in the future.
“All I need to do is work on my takedowns and being more aggressive,” Sanchez said. “I’m such a mellow wrestler, it’s ridiculous.”
She credits a lot of her accomplishments to having to go head-to-head with the men at every practice.
“Getting beaten and thrown around with these guys at practice has helped me all year,” Sanchez said.
Specifically, Sanchez has trained with teammate, and future captain of the club, Mike Brungardt.
“We use the same move set on bottom, something that stats don’t show,” Brungardt said.
Though she was seeded fourth out of eight total wrestlers, Sanchez’s work ethic led her team to the believe that she had a nice chance at becoming an All-American.
“As coaches, we knew it was very possible,” Head Coach Kendall DeJonge said. “We knew she was good enough to make it to through.”
The Rams brought eight total wrestlers to compete at Nationals. They were ever so close to naming two All-Americans, as Brungardt was two wins away from matching Sanchez’ accomplishment.
“He wrestled really, really well at times, but at times was outmatched,” DeJonge said.
Brungardt experienced deja vu, as he finished in the same spot as he did last season at Nationals. However, this year, the playing field in the men’s bracket, which included over 50 wrestlers, featured more elite competition. In fact, two out of Brungardt’s four matches were against nationally ranked wrestlers, including No. 7 Matt Mooney from Temple.
“I feel disappointed but this year there was a big step from last year,” Brungardt said.
The Rams are enthusiastically looking ahead to next season. Sanchez highlights their long list of young wrestlers who will be returning next year.
“I have high hopes for next year,” Brungardt said. “We are bringing back a bunch of people who competed in Nationals this year.”