Wrestling team brings home 3 RMAC champs
Six wrestlers finished in the top five, including three champions, at the RMAC Championships tournament Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Taylor Summers, senior of Plymouth, 133-pounds; Chance Helmick, junior of Beatrice, 174-pounds; and Cooper Cogdill, sophomore of Chadron, heavyweight, finished the day 3-0 at the top of the podium.
“Taylor, Chance and Cooper did what was expected,” Head Coach Brett Hunter said. “They wrestled their butts off and have really separated themselves from the rest of the RMAC.”
“I knew if I went out and wrestled as hard as I could every match good things would happen,” Helmick said. “I did my best to stay on the attack. It feels good to win the conference tournament but I’m not satisfied. What really matters is Regionals and Nationals.”
Sean Glasgow, redshirt freshman of Newark, New Jersey, 149-pounds, and Matthew Kindler, freshman of David City, 197-pounds, both lost their first matches, but made up for it by winning three in a row to finish third in their respective brackets.
Luke Zeiger, redshirt sophomore of Glasgow, Montana, 141-pounds, earned two pins in three wins to finish just off the podium in fifth. Zeiger is now 6-4 on the season since beginning to wrestle in mid-January. He took the first part of the season off due to injury.
The team finished fifth out of nine schools at the tournament with 86.5 points, which is 18 more points than at the 2016 tournament. Colorado State University-Pueblo won the tournament with 116.5 points, followed by California Baptist University, 100.5; Western State Colorado University, 90; and Colorado Mesa University, 88.
“What hurt us was we had guys that didn’t win any matches and that’s a lot of points we didn’t earn,” Hunter said. “If those guys win one or two matches, we would have been in the top one or two spots.”
Summers, now 23-4 and ranked No. 6 in the nation, defeated New Mexico Highlands University’s Jack Gaylor, junior of Heber, Arizona, 13-2, and San Francisco State University’s Nathan Cervantez, redshirt freshman of Pittsburg, California, in a sudden 2-1 victory before advancing to the finals.
The finals match was set up to be a repeat of the 2016 tournament. Summers faced Adams State University’s Martin Ramirez, No. 7 in the nation, redshirt senior of Elk Grove, California. But last year, Ramirez won 10-4. This year, Summers earned the decision 6-3.
“It was nice coming out with an individual championship,” Summers said. “That being said, I thought I wrestled a little flat and could have scored more points. I have to adjust to guys that try to slow the match down and keep it close.”
Helmick, 26-3 and No. 7 in the nation, earned a 59-second pin over San Francisco State’s Jesse Lyga, senior of Simi Valley, California, in the first match. He continued the winning with a 7-5 decision over CSU-P’s Kyle Bateman, No. 10 in the nation, senior of Sandy, Oregon.
The finals match put Helmick against No. 9 in the nation Western State’s Brandon Supernaw, redshirt sophomore of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where Helmick earned a 13-4 major decision.
“In the finals, I attacked the whole match and looked to widen the gap between myself and the field,” Helmick said.
Cogdill, 23-7, shut out NMHU’s Gabriel Escobedo, junior of Caldwell, Idaho, 12-0 and ASU’s Tuli Laulu, senior of Peyton, Colorado, 3-0. In the finals round, Cogdill won 6-2 against Cal. Baptist’s Paul Head, redshirt senior of San Diego.
The Eagles will return home Saturday for the final dual of the season against Colorado State University-Pueblo. The dual will begin at 6 p.m. in the NPAC. CSC will also compete at the Rocky Mountain Open, Golden, Colorado, at 9 a.m. Sunday.
The Regional tournament is scheduled for Feb. 24-25 with Nationals March 10-11.
“With only a few more weeks left it’s important to work on the little things that could keep you from winning down the stretch,” Summers said. “So for me, it’s just small adjustments in each position to keep the match under my control. This is where the boys and the men get separated.”