Breed sheds redshirt to become key wrestler for Mesa

Mesa State’s Rhett Breed, bottom, was originally scheduled to redshirt this season for the Mavs, but wrestled well enough in practice to earn a spot in the lineup.

Mesa State wrestling coach Chuck Pipher originally planned to redshirt freshman Rhett Breed.

The four-time state qualifier from Durango missed the first few weeks of practice with a knee injury and Pipher figured he had enough veteran wrestlers for the lineup.

Breed, though, made use of the time, paying attention in practice and absorbing everything he could.

“I was bummed out (about redshirting),” Breed said. “I paid attention and listened.

“I learned so much. The first month and a half it was non-stop learning.”

Breed realized he could still earn the spot after a talk with his dad, former Western State wrestler Ben Breed.

“My dad was the biggest part of that,” Breed said. “He told me if I win (the varsity spot) there is no reason for me to redshirt. He didn’t want me to make the same mistake I did in high school my freshman year. I was happy just to be on varsity. I was my own worst enemy.

“I talked to Coach Pipher and he agreed with my dad. I want to stay healthy and succeed. I’d like to finish with a winning record. My main goal overall is to be an All-American someday.”

Breed wrestled in his first college tournament in the Bob Smith Open in early December. He pinned his first opponent and reached the quarterfinals. He finished 3-2, with his only losses coming to the tournament champion and the fourth-place finisher.

“Wrestling my first tournament was like 1,000 pounds off my back,” Breed said. “I pinned the kid in my first match. It was sweet.”

The 133-pounder proved he deserves the chance and will wrestle for the Mavericks on Saturday and Sunday in the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis, Ind. The tournament is hosted by the University of Indianapolis.

The Mavericks are one of 21 teams in Division II and NAIA competing in the tournament. In the field are seven nationally ranked Division II teams: No. 4 Adams State, No. 5 Newberry (S.C.), No. 13 Findlay (Ohio), No. 18 Augustana (S.D.), No. 19 Ashland (Ohio) and No. 20 Central Missouri.

“We’re trying to get our name out there,” Pipher said. “This is a good tournament for the younger guys to get some matches and for the older guys for competition.”

After two months of open tournaments, Pipher has his lineup set.

It will feature five freshmen and five wrestlers with at least one year of college experience. Sophomore Jason Wenger will wrestle at 141, junior Keith Johnson at 149, junior Chase Walker at 157, junior Cole Johnson at 165 and junior Andy Laiminger at 184.

Redshirt freshman Chris Harvey will wrestle at 174 with freshmen Miguel Baltazar (125), Breed (133), James Breidel (197) and Trevor Stapp (285) filling out the roster.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Pipher said. “We have four true freshmen in there, but we’re starting to have a little depth.”

This tournament is the first time Pipher will fill every weight class.

All-American junior college transfers Shane Miller (197) and Jeremy Ensley (125) didn’t have enough academic credit hours transfer and will redshirt.


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