The best of the Breed: Mesa State 141-pounder has national title aspirations
Rhett Breed is refreshed and ready to go.
The Mesa State College wrestler is back this season stronger than ever and expects to compete for a national title.
“I want to be a national champion, nothing less,” Breed said. “There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about it. At the same time, I want to embrace this and have fun.”
Breed made big strides his freshman year, going 18-11 and qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships.
He returned last year, but had a foot injury and planned to redshirt. Midway through the season, Mesa State coach Chuck Pipher pulled his redshirt and he wrestled in a dual four days later. The next week, Breed tore a knee ligament and was done for the season. He ended up redshirting.
“A year off makes you think,” Breed said. “Getting hurt makes you think if this is what I want to do.
“I’ve improved tenfold. I’m excited for this year. I’ve been in the weight room a lot. I fit in at 41s. Last year, I was a little smaller and weaker. I feel strong. I’ve been able to maintain my weight well, whereas I struggled with that last year.”
Breed has decided he wants to be the best wrestler in the country and he’ll have to prove it in one of the toughest weight classes in the nation.
He’s in the same weight class as four returning All-Americans, a junior college national champion and a Division I transfer.
That has the 141-pound redshirt sophomore fired up and ready to prove his freshman year wasn’t a fluke.
“I have my work cut out for me,” Breed said. “I get to wrestle some of these guys two or three times this year. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pipher is looking to Breed to be a leader this season as a team captain along with Shane Miller and Kyle Brightman.
“After last year, (Breed) grew up so much,” Pipher said. “He is a great leader. We look for him to be an All-American.”
Miller just missed qualifying for nationals last year and Pipher believes he’s ready to make that step this season.
“I think he can push to be an All-American,” Pipher said. “He’s looking good and working hard.”
Those two will be expected to lead the way for the Mavericks, who lost half the team that wrestled in the super regional last year, including national qualifier Tyler Juby, who became ineligible and quit school.
Several other wrestlers with experience will get a chance to earn a spot, but Pipher expects some new faces to step in and make a splash.
Freshmen Clay Flot (Platte Valley), Daniel Romero (San Diego), Derek Good (Ponderosa), Zak Slotten (Twin Falls, Idaho) and Joey Hamilton (Twin Falls, Idaho) are competing for spots.
Some of the new faces include Western Slope wrestlers James Martinez (Rifle), Jordan Passehl (Montrose), Logan McNulty (Fruita Monument) and Colten Huskey (Dove Creek). Huskey is a redshirt freshman transfer from the University of Northern Colorado.
“If you look at our roster, we don’t have the (national) credentials, but we have a great bunch of redshirt freshmen that will make some noise,” Pipher said. “We had a great fall workout, but we’re still young.”
The young wrestlers will quickly find out what college wrestling is like — the Mavericks wrestle five of the top 10 teams in the country and nine of the top 20 in duals this season.
“We did better last year (than the previous year), but we didn’t finish well,” Pipher said. “We’re going to take it easier in the fall and try to peak at the end.”
Mesa hosts its annual Maroon & White scrimmage at 7 tonight at Brownson Arena before opening the season Saturday at the University of Wyoming Open. The Mavericks’ first home dual is Jan. 23 against Colorado School of Mines.
Pipher has a new assistant coach this season, former Western State All-American Chris Freije, along with Anthony Guillen and Sean White. Former Mesa wrestlers Cole Johnson and Andy Laiminger are student-assistant coaches.