CSU wrestling ready to cap impressive season at Nationals

Tyler Johnson

The Colorado State club wrestling team is in the midst of one of the most successful seasons in program history, one that includes wins in its home tournament and their first Great Plains Conference championship. Now, the Rams turn their attention to Texas for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association Division II Nationals this weekend.

Last week, the Rams made a statement by qualifying 11 wrestlers for Nationals including four champions at the conference championship. Those wrestlers will join the two women wrestlers who automatically qualified totaling 13 wrestlers, more than doubling the number the Rams took to Texas last year. This is the most wrestlers the Rams have ever sent to nationals.


CSU has an extremely young team with no seniors and a small number of juniors; but this hasn’t held back the team as a group of freshmen, including Louie Romero and Santana Salas, have come in and made an instant impact. For many of the wrestlers, this will be their first time wrestling at Nationals, something they are not deterred by.

“My goal is to get as many Ws as possible,” junior Ben Peterson said. “Getting as deep into the tournament as I can.”

With most of the roster competing at Nationals, it is hard to not feel like the Rams could be in the mix for their first national title, something that seemed very unlikely just a few years ago. Even so, head coach Kendall DeJonge has kept his team grounded.

“Our goals is to wrestle tough,” DeJonge said. “We want to try and get as many wrestlers as we can on the podium.”

DeJonge stressed rest and fundamentals as the team’s focus with just a couple practices remaining before Nationals. With such a long season, DeJonge has tried to keep things fresh by shaking up the structure of practice. This includes running sprints while doing the ‘Macarena’ and keg relays. Keeping wrestling fun has been a focus all year and with such an important tournament looming, DeJonge does his best to keep everyone smiling.

“We want to stay as healthy as possible,” DeJonge said. “The more we wrestle, the more likely someone is going to be hurt. So we are trying to keep it fun and make sure everyone makes weight.”

It is easy to see that this team has the camaraderie that it takes to be a championship team as they proved last weekend. The team has become a family and even created CSU wrestling wristbands to show that they are all part of something special.

Even though this season is still going, it is hard to not look ahead at what the Rams could do next year. With no graduating seniors, many of the wrestlers will be returning with experience on the national stage. For now, all eyes are on representing Colorado State in Allen, Texas this weekend.

Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TylerGjohnson20.