The Chadron State wrestling squad faces a stiff challenge at the start of the season as the group squares off against St. Cloud University, the top NCAA DII wrestling team, this evening, in Minnesota.
The Huskies, who have won three of the past four DII national championships, got off to an expectedly hot start, placing a wrestler in the top spot of 10 weight classes in their opening action of this season at the Dakota Wesleyan Open, in Mitchell, South Dakota, Saturday.
According to the team’s website, the Huskies have not lost a dual since January of 2017.
“We have been talking about this dual since April,” CSC Wrestling Head Coach Brett Hunter said. “I think having the opportunity to wrestle the best team in the nation this early really helps keep the guys hungry and motivated.”
Following the annual Black and Cardinal intrasquad event, held Oct. 8, Hunter said the first step to preparing for the coming season was to solidify the team’s lineup.
“We feel like we have a good handle on our lineup, so now we just need to prepare and watch film on St. Cloud, and continue to get better each practice,” Hunter said following the Black and Cardinal event.
24 Chadron wrestlers will make the trip to battle St. Cloud, with the group also traveling to the Finn Grinacker Open, in Moorhead, Minnesota, Saturday.
CSC standout Brock Thumm, senior of Watervliet, Michigan, will not make the trip due to his current role as a student teacher at Chadron High School.
The journey to Minnesota presents an early season challenge for the group of Eagle wrestlers which includes several new faces, but Coach Hunter welcomes the test.
“We accept the challenges of long road trips,” Hunter said. “We find the positives…It’s a great way to keep building relationships with (the team) without having ‘coach mode’ always on.”
Hunter has recently celebrated the commitments of six wrestlers he plans to add to the group in the future.
In revamping the team’s approach to recruitment, Hunter is focused on bringing good character traits, not necessarily talents to the roster.
“All six of these guys are excellent students,” Hunter said. “They all live the championship culture by doing the right things on and off the mat. We’re okay passing up the talented kids if we can continue to bring great kids to Chadron State who do the right things.”
Thursday’s dual with St. Cloud is set to begin at 6:00 p.m.