Mavs wrestlers face stiff competition in return to the mat
Dylan Granard took a week off to spend with family for Christmas break, but he didn’t sit around eating chocolate and drinking egg nog — at least not much.
The Colorado Mesa University sophomore wrestler made sure to spend a lot of time working out with his high school team in Woodinville, Wash.
“I knew I had to work out,” Granard said. “Christmas was pretty hard, but for the most part I kept my weight under control.
“I may have had a little slice of cake.”
Colorado Mesa, ranked 18th in the nation, wrestles in the Grand Canyon (Ariz.) Duals on Saturday in Phoenix, then wrestles two more duals on Monday in Phoenix.
With five duals in the three days, including four against top 10 nationally ranked teams, Granard and the rest of the Mavs couldn’t afford to kick back during the break.
“We gave them enough time to heal up some injuries, then we’re right back in it,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “I think it’s good for these guys to wrestle this kind of competition.
“We know what we’re up against. We know where we’re at. We have nothing to lose. We want to be national champions. We want to be in their position down the road.”
The Mavericks begin Saturday’s dual tournament with No. 1 Newberry (S.C.) College at 9 a.m., then follow it with No. 3 St. Cloud State (Minn.) University and No. 9 Mercyhurst (Pa.) College. CMU finishes the dual tournament with club team California Baptist University. CMU wrestles NAIA Embry-Riddle (Ariz.), followed by No. 5 Grand Canyon (Ariz.) in an RMAC dual at 5 p.m. Monday before returning home.
“We’re not making a big deal about who we’re wrestling,” Pipher said. “We have good guys on the team. It’s a chance for them to get their name in the rankings.”
Granard (2-2), who is ranked fourth at 165 pounds, will likely wrestle the No. 1 and No. 5 guys in his weight class Saturday.
St. Cloud State’s Tad Merritt (13-2) is the top-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds. The senior is a three-time All-American.
Newberry’s Sean Brynes is ranked fifth, one spot behind Granard. The senior was a national qualifier last season.
“Those are the guys that are going to be at nationals, so I have to go there and tell them I’m in it,” said Granard, a returning national qualifier himself. “It’s definitely going to be tough for sure.”
Colorado Mesa freshmen heavyweight wrestlers Paco Retanes-Quinones and Alex Wranik will split time this weekend against three nationally ranked wrestlers in No. 1 Jacob Kahnke of St. Cloud State, No. 4 Jake Elkins of Newberry and No. 7 Fred Hale of Mercyhurst. Pipher is holding out Trevor Stapp to rest his elbow and for the RMAC duals.
CMU junior Jon Gappmaier could wrestle two nationally ranked wrestlers this weekend in No. 4 Jordan Shields of Mercyhurst and No. 5 Teddy Bristol of Grand Canyon at 157 pounds. Freshman Parker Overmiller may wrestle two nationally ranked wrestlers in No. 1 Connor McDonald (Newberry) and Kyle McCrite (Grand Canyon) at 125. Trevor Donarski could see two at 149, Zak Slotten has two at 174 and Nick Petersen has two at 184.