The Colorado State club wrestling team kicked off their season last Thursday with a dual against former NCWA team Air Force Prep Academy before hosting their annual CSU Invitational on Saturday.
Things did not go the way the Rams planned Thursday night, falling to Air Force Prep 20-25. Whether it was due to lack of college experience for the young team or first match jitters, the Rams came out flat. CSU only won one match outside of open spots, and several of the Rams were pinned in the first or second periods of their matches.
For much of the team, it was their first match as a college wrestler. After the match, head coach Kendall DeJonge and the rest of the coaching staff challenged the team to embracing how hard collegiate wrestling can be and to continue to work hard in practice.
The team responded in a big way on Saturday at the CSU Invitational. The tournament featured seven teams from across the country packed with talented wrestlers. This was the first opportunity for the Rams to show all the hard work they had put in during the offseason.
CSU finished second in the overall team standings with 109.5 points, trailing only BYU with 115.5 points. The Rams believe they showed the rest of the Great Plains Conference that this is a different team from last year by medaling in multiple weight classes on Saturday.
On the women’s side, Colorado State finished co-champions at the women’s 136-pound division. Returning national medalists, sophomore Kendal Davis and junior KaMele Sanchez, won their first two matches of the season by pin.
Meanwhile, the men’s team took home medals at several weight classes. Freshman Joey Tharp won the 133-pound division, getting his first win in college. Freshmen Louie Romero and Santana Salas won in the 141-pound and 149-pound divisions, respectively. Upperclassmen also contributed to the fantastic showing as junior Ben Peterson won the 165-pound division and junior Taylor Dawal placed second at the 157-pound division.
DeJonge could not have been more pleased with how his team bounced back after the disappointing result on Thursday.
“This is the best day of wrestling I’ve had coaching this team,” DeJonge said. “I hope there’s more best days to come this season but today was just awesome.”
After the Rams’ strong performance on Saturday, the team has realized that the goal of winning a conference championship can become a reality as long as they are willing to put in the work.
The Rams will be back in action on Friday, Nov. 17 as they travel to Detroit, Mich. to take part in the Wayne State College NCWA duals.
Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TylerGjohnson20.