(Neb.)- Eagles Wrestling, Ranked 13th, Heads To Golden
CHADRON, Neb. -- The Chadron State College wrestling team prepares to take on two Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference opponents in duals on Friday, two days after receiving a lofty team ranking from the National Wrestling Coaches Association on Wednesday.
The Eagles received 29 points in a composite of individual rankings at each weight class, up from the 21 points they received in preseason rankings, to rank 13th in NCAA Division II. The jump puts CSC at its highest NWCA Division II ranking since the 2007-08 season, when it boasted the nation's top-ranked individuals at 165 and 197 pounds. That pair were none other than current CSC Head Wrestling Coach Brett Hunter, and Josh Majerus, who both earned national titles during their careers.
This season, no Eagles are No. 1, but four are ranked in the top 10 of their respective weight classes. The move from 21st to 13th as a team comes as a result of 149-pounder Chase Clasen, of Moses Lake, Washington, making a leap into the top five and heavyweight Rulon Taylor edging up two spots.
Clasen's 2-1 win over James Pleski of St. Cloud State vaulted the junior to No. 5 in his most recent appearance on the mat. Clasen scored the first takedown in his match, allowing only one escape, and nearly recorded another takedown from the neutral position as time expired in the third period. Pleski fell to No. 2 and was replaced at the top of the 149-pound rankings by Chris Eddins of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.
Taylor also recorded a big win at St. Cloud, pinning Zach Muller in 1:44 for six team points in the heavyweight bout. The senior from Curtis, Nebraska went from 12th to 10th in the latest rankings.
Muller, who received his only loss of the season so far in that match, has five wins on the year, and his four wins by fall are the second-most pins for the No. 1-ranked Huskies. He moved up into the rankings at No. 11, just behind Taylor.
Senior Brock Thumm, at 141 pounds, remains ranked third. The Watervliet, Michigan, native has not wrestled yet this season due to student-teaching obligations, but he will compete with fellow 141-pounder Chance Karst of Powell, Wyoming, for a bid in the December 15 Midwest Classic in Indianapolis. The Midwest Classic is one of the nation's premier wrestling competitions.
After placing fourth at the University of Wyoming Cowboy Open Elite tournament as a heavyweight, 197-pound junior Wade French, of Herriman, Utah, was able to get a pair of matches in at his proper weight class in Minnesota two weeks ago. He was upset by a redshirt freshman, who won five open meets last year, from St. Cloud, and a Canadian wrestler who placed fourth at last year's collegiate national tournament.
The Eagles meet San Francisco State at 3 p.m. Friday, before tangling with host Colorado School of Mines at 5 p.m. Both matches are to be live-streamed for video at portal.stretchinternet.com/chadron/. The two opponents both received seven points in the national ranking, tying them at 37th.
San Francisco has standouts at the two lowest weight classes, 125 and 133 pounds. Both wrestled up a class in the Gators' three early duals, going 1-2. Brandon Vu, at 125, placed fourth at the Roadrunner Open in Bakersfield, going 3-2. Jordan Gurrola, at 133 pounds, lost only to a Bakersfield wrestler who had also defeated Vu two weeks earlier, placing third. Both are also returning national qualifiers, with Vu placing fourth at last year's regionals, and Gurrola a 2014-15 regional runner-up who did not compete the past two seasons.
Mines' lineup features only one ranked opponent, No. 7 Noah Au-Yeung, but Coach Hunter says the team has no weak spots up and down its lineup. Au-Yeung placed fourth at last year's regional tournament, at 133-pounds, to advance to the national tournament.
The Orediggers' season so far includes a pair of lopsided dual wins over junior college teams, and a couple of trips to tough open meets. Sophomore Connor Ventura finished runner-up at the Cowboy Open, while Robert Gambrell, a junior, was runner-up at the Kearney Open. Both were in the Elite, or veteran brackets. The team is very experienced overall, with six seniors and 19 wrestlers who are in their third year or better in the program.
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