Mavericks raising the bar
Depth has wrestlers eager for the season
The 2011-12 wrestling season was a trying one for Chester Granard.
Yet, he managed to qualify for nationals and earn All-America honors.
The Colorado Mesa University junior is ready to live up to his own expectations this season as the fourth-ranked 165-pound wrestler in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division II rankings.
“I’ve got a real good feeling about this year,” Granard said. “Last year, it was a battle the whole year. I wasn’t as successful as I would like. I had some personal issues that may have affected my attitude, but I’m working hard this year.”
Teammate Nick Petersen wasn’t happy with his seventh-place finish at nationals, even though he earned All-America honors. He’s shooting for a national title and is ranked sixth in the NWCA rankings at 184 pounds.
“I’m excited,” Petersen said. “We have the potential to do really good this year as long as we all stay healthy. We have higher expectations. We got a glimpse of what we could do last year. Now, we have a year under us.”
The returning All-Americans might get some company this season.
“We’re looking at five weights in a row with All-Americans,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “We feel that strong about 49s, 57s, 65s, 74 and 84s.
“Our roster is just what we needed to get. We have a good first team and a good second team that can back up any of these guys. I wanted a good, solid 45-man roster and keep building.”
Pipher has eight returning starters, including six national qualifiers in the past two seasons. Mesa is ranked 20th in the NWCA Division II preseason poll.
“I feel like we should’ve been here two or three years ago,” Pipher said. “I feel like we’ve got a strong base program. We didn’t jump out and go after a lot of junior college kids.
“Our fundraising is good, our support is good, our coaching staff is good. I think our staff is second to none. The support and facilities are in place.”
The Mavericks open the season Saturday in the University of Wyoming Open, but Pipher plans to give a majority of returning wrestlers a chance to rest.
The Mavericks host their maroon-and-white scrimmage at 7 p.m. on Nov. 7, followed by a pair of duals beginning at 5 p.m. on Nov. 9 and the Colorado Mesa Open on Nov. 10.
Mesa has five more home duals after the first of the year.
“We’ve got a great home schedule this year, the most we’ve ever had,” Pipher said. “Our open is taking off. We made a commitment to travel the first few years, and now teams are returning that and coming here.”
Freshman Daniel Salazar, a four-time state placer at Palisade, is competing with freshman Jonathon Stelling of Westminster for the 125-pound position that Mesa mostly forfeited last year.
Sophomore Drew Schumann of Montrose likely will wrestle at 141 pounds as national qualifier James Martinez bumps up a weight class to 149 pounds. Trevor Donarski, who wrestled at 149 last year, will redshirt this season.
“Ideally, it would be great to have a three-year guy at each weight, but that doesn’t happen,” Pipher said.
“You hope to plug in freshmen each year so the strength of your team stays consistent. You hope next year you look at a couple different weights to fill.”
Pipher said he has a good, hard-working group of wrestlers who have good technique, are well-conditioned and for the most part give everything they have.
To go with it, he’d like to see from everyone an “I’m going to kick your butt attitude.”
“We work on that day in and day out. ... That’s the one thing we’re missing,” Pipher said.