Petersen places 7th, Granard 8th for Mavs
PUEBLO — Experience can make a big difference.
Of Colorado Mesa University’s five national qualifying wrestlers, the two with previous national tournament experience placed and earned All-America honors.
Mesa’s Nick Petersen took seventh place at 184 pounds and Chester Granard placed eighth at 165 to earn All-America honors at the NCAA Division II national championships at Massari Arena.
Colorado Mesa placed 24th with 12.5 points. Nebraska-Kearney won its second national championship with 107 points. St. Cloud State was second with 95 points.
“We’ve come a long ways this year,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “We still have a long ways to go, but we got the whole team coming back (next season). It’s not like we had a breakout year and have none coming back.”
Petersen earned his third All-America honor by taking seventh at 184 pounds. The junior was a two-time junior college All-American at Northwest (Wyo.) College. He won a juco national title last season.
“It’s not as good as I wanted, but at least I’m on the podium,” Petersen said.
“The matches are closer and everyone’s technique is better,” Petersen said, comparing Division II to junior college wrestling.
Petersen (32-15) defeated second-ranked Matt Gille of Wisconsin-Parkside 3-1 in overtime in the seventh-place match.
“I thought I was winning,” Petersen said. “I thought I had riding time, but I felt confident I’d win.”
Petersen lost an opportunity to place higher with an 11-5 loss to No. 1 ranked Dallas Smith of Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) University in the consolation third round.
“Nick wrestled sound,” Pipher said. “He stayed in good position. It was a good way for Nick to finish the year.”
Granard (19-20) earned All-America honors for the first time in his second NCAA Division II national tournament.
“I’m happy I came here and made All-American,” Granard said. “I’m happy I had the motivation to do something I didn’t do last year, but at the same time I’m disappointed I didn’t do better.”
The sophomore, though, couldn’t upset the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the consolation bracket or defeat a familiar foe in the seventh-place match.
Granard’s former Eastside (Wash.) Club teammate Cody Quinn of Minnesota State-Mankato got the better of him in a 3-2 victory to take seventh place.
The two wrestled on the same club team during the summers in high school in the Seattle metro area and worked out together this past summer. Quinn defeated Granard in a consolation match in the Washington High School state tournament when the two were sophomores.
“It would’ve been horrible to wrestle in a loser-goes-home match,” Quinn said. “I’m sure he’ll tell you, you’ve got to shut your brain off and get your head on straight. Just the fact I know him from high school is weird.”
Granard scored on Quinn first, but Quinn escaped. The Mankato freshman scored a reversal in the second period for a 3-2 lead and held on the rest of the way.
“We’re still buddies,” Granard said. “I told him if I’m in Washington this summer, we’ll work out again.”
Granard hung close with St. Cloud (Minn.) State’s Tad Merritt in the consolation third round until the third period when Merritt caught Granard and pinned him in 6 minutes, 15 seconds.
Mesa junior Jon Gappmaier (157 pounds), freshman James Martinez (141) and freshman Paco Retana (285) qualified for nationals, but didn’t place.