Can the Eagle wrestlers come back?
The Chadron State wrestling team grappled their way through two duals last week. On Thursday, Jan. 19 they came across Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colo. and emerged victorious with a 22-13 win over the Mavericks. Their celebration was cut short by Western State College the next night, Friday, Jan. 20, in a 28-9 loss to the Mountaineers.
Against the Mavericks, Chadron won six matches (one by forfeit), with a solid performance by Mikah Kadera, senior of Sheridan, Wyo., in the 165 class. The bout, against sophomore Dylan Granard of Woodinville, Wash., who was ranked 4th in the nation by the Dec. 6 NWCA Poll, resulted in a 5-3 overtime win for Kadera.
The next night, facing the nationally-ranked Mountaineers (18th in the Jan. 11 NWCA Poll), Chadron lost the first five matches in a row, setting them too far behind in points to be able to muster a comeback victory. In spite of the stiff competition, Kadera and sophomore teammate Jordan DeBus of Mitchell managed to pull out victories in the 165 and 184 classes, respectively. Chris Leak, junior of Omaha, didn’t wrestle Friday after suffering undisclosed, and according to head coach Scott Ritzen, minor injuries the previous night in his win against Mesa.
The Eagles are now 4-5 overall and 1-3 in the RMAC. Head coach Scott Ritzen believes that with a few changes, his team can move back up in the standings from their last-place berth.
“We need consistency,” Ritzen said, “RMAC is the toughest conference in the nation. Our guys will do good one duel then bad the next. We just need to focus as a team and bump up the intensity. Our team is full of young athletes so we need our older guys like [Chris] Leak to be leaders and rub off on the younger teammates.”
The Eagles will participate in an exhibition match versus the Division I University of Northern Colorado, Saturday Jan. 28 in Greeley, Colo.
“Going up against a Division I team, we’ll have our backs against the wall,” Ritzen said, “If we get a team win, or even just some individual victories, then it’d be a huge boost in team morale.”