Hopes of capturing a conference championship were dashed over the weekend for Colorado State club wrestling. However, the club qualified seven wrestlers for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association national tournament.
Colorado State came in fourth place at the Great Plains Conference Championships out of eight teams. The Rams finished behind Iowa State, Air Force Prep and Wayne State.
“It was wonderful because all but two of my teammates made it to nationals,” said senior club president Mike Brungardt. “We used to send four wrestlers to nationals at the most, so sending seven as a team, especially such a young team like we have, is an enormous accomplishment”.
Photos by Abbie Parr | Collegian
Ben Peterson, Colin Saiz, Max Furst and Andrew Gille all were able to finish in the top three in their respected weight division, qualifying them for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association national tournament being held in Texas.
“Considering we only filled about half a team and still had a large impact feels great,” Brungardt said about his team’s performance. “If we can fill all the weights and continue our winning ways we can definitely contend for a conference championship. We have a team full of championship-caliber wrestlers, we just need to cut out the injuries.”
Brungardt finished fourth in his weight class, but was able to qualify for nationals as a wildcard. Women’s wrestlers KaMele Sanchez and Kendal Davis will also represent CSU in Texas as automatic qualifiers.
“We had great performances from everyone on the team. I’m extremely proud of all of them,” said head coach Kendal Dejonge. “In particular, both Ben Peterson and Colin Saiz wrestled the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the country at 157 pounds. Neither were able to come away with the win, but they both were able to rebound and qualify for nationals and that’s a huge achievement.”
For freshman Colin Saiz nationals will be the cap to a successful first year with the Rams. Finishing third in the conference, he will be looking to prove he is ready for the big stage in a few weeks.
“I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited,” Saiz said. “It is a blessing to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to experience the new environment for the first time.”
The NCWA Nationals will start Thursday, March 9 and continue through Saturday. The seven wrestlers who qualified will be facing wrestlers from over 80 different schools from all around the United States.
Those who are able to advance to Saturday at nationals will be able to call themselves All-Americans. Only seven Rams have achieved the All-American status since 2006.
“On the men’s side we have a mix of experience and new faces going to nationals. We fully expect several of them to make it deep into the tournament,” Dejonge said about expectations for his team. “For the women we have two young ladies (KaMele Sanche and Kendal Davis) who have put together amazing seasons and they are going to be in the hunt to be on the podium as All-Americans.”
Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @TylerGJohnson20