The Colorado State club wrestling team is ready to face some real competition as practices have been ramping up and the season looms on the horizon.
The Rams believe that a group of impressive freshmen will mix well with a solid stable of returning wrestlers. Head coach Kendall DeJonge has been impressed with his team’s preparation for the upcoming season. Solid performances from the young core will be one of the more important goals during a busy opening week of the season.
CSU will rely on production from a large group of freshmen, including 133-pound Joey Tharp 197-pound Dean Vangsnes. Both are excited to compete in the first match of their college career on Thursday night.
“I know I’m going to have a lot fewer matches in college than high school,” Vangsnes said. “I always take my matches seriously but since there are less I want to make every one count.”
Leadership for the team will come from both the team president, junior Kamele Sanchez, and vice president, junior Ben Peterson. Sanchez is first female wrestler to compete in consecutive seasons and became an All-American since 2013. Peterson has qualified for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Championships on two separate occasions. Both have big expectations for the team this year.
“We want to qualify as many people as we can for nationals this year,” Peterson said. “We have a target number of eleven wrestlers. We also want to win a conference title.”
“We’ve got a group of wrestlers who are dedicated.” Sanchez added. “That can be hard with club sports but the team is willing to put the work in.”
Their season will start Thursday, Nov. 2 with a dual meet against Air Force Prep Academy. The Academy will be a good early test for the Rams and serve as a warm up for the weekend tournament. Wrestling begins at 8 p.m. at the South College Gym with a $2 cost of admission.
The Rams will then host a tournament on Saturday, Nov. 4 against some of the best teams in the nation. Top ranked Division I and Division II NCWA wrestlers will come to Fort Collins to compete against the Rams for both individual and team honors.
“We want those guys to come in here so we can beat them,” DeJonge said. “There are a lot of good teams coming here and our guys are ready to compete.”
The tournament gets underway at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the South College Gym. Admission is $3 for students and $5 for non-students.
Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @TylerGjohnson20.