Big man on campus
Passehl's clutch win lifts Mavs past Western
Drew Schumann was about to get a blinding look at the spotlight that hovers above the wrestling mat at Brownson Arena.
Instead, his familiarity with his situation led to him pinning his opponent at 149 pounds on Thursday night and giving Colorado Mesa a huge win on its way to upending rival Western State Colorado, the fifth-ranked team in NCAA Division II.
Schumann recorded the Mavericks’ lone pin, and Daniel Salazar (141) and heavyweight Jordan Passehl won their matches 3-1 in overtime as Mesa claimed a 23-17 win and first place in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference with two duals remaining.
The No. 13 Mavericks led 20-17 after nine matches, meaning the team outcome came down to the big men at the end: Passehl, who is ranked No. 8 in the nation, and the Mountaineers’ Peter Anguiano. Passehl said he won a close match over Anguiano early in the season, and Thursday’s match transpired similarly. The score was tied 1-1 going into the one-minute overtime period.
“I had a minute, and I knew I had to do it,” said Passehl, who got the winning takedown 22 seconds into overtime, then was mobbed by celebrating fans who rushed onto the mat.
“I shot a single, and he kind of sprawled and had a whizzer on me,” Passehl said of his takedown. “I basically hit a limp-arm. I went for it and missed, then tried it again and got it the second time.”
Passehl said the dual victory meant a lot because of the rivalry with Western State and the impact it would have in the RMAC, but he echoed Mesa coach Chuck Pipher in saying the Mavs aren’t RMAC champions yet.
“We’ve got two more, and we have to win the two,” Passehl said of Mesa’s home duals Feb. 13 and 14 against New Mexico Highlands and Colorado School of Mines. “We have to take care of business next week.”
The Mavericks might have needed more than a decision from Passehl at the end if not for Salazar and Schumann.
Salazar’s match went seven minutes without a takedown, but 27.1 seconds into overtime, his week of practice paid off with the winning takedown.
“All week I was working on the backside single,” Salazar said of the move that netted him the win. “So, big thanks to (Mesa assistant coach) Larry Wilbanks.”
Salazar was determined to do his part for the team, adding, “Every match we could win, we had to get it.”
And the Mavericks needed to get every extra point they could before hitting the strength of the Mountaineers, weights 174, 184 and 197, where each Western wrestler was ranked in the top six in the nation. Mesa helped itself when Mitch Wyatt (184) and Paco Retana (197) limited fifth-ranked Kyle Piatt and sixth-ranked Sam Mangum, respectively, to major decisions and four team points instead of five or six.
“It was a team effort, and I feel like everyone did something to win it,” Pipher said.
He added 141 and 149 were swing matches and pivotal wins. The latter was Schumann’s handiwork.
Schumann called himself a slow starter, and he gave up a takedown and trailed 2-1 after the first period. Starting the second period in the bottom position, he fought off a tilt attempt by Western State sophomore Ian Steen, then Steen got a better hold and slid Schumann’s shoulders toward the mat. Rather than give up back points, he scrambled and reversed Steen to his back with about 65 seconds left in the period.
As Steen tried to squirm out, Schumann adjusted and cinched a headlock tight with 52 seconds left and scored the fall seven seconds later.
“Once he started to get that tilt on me, I could feel he was getting out of position, and I countered from there and got him to his back,” Schumann said.
The junior from Montrose said the position he was in happens to him fairly frequently in practice.
“I have a couple of wrestling partners who do that same move, and they beat me up with it,” Schuman said.
But that also provided the practice needed to get out of it when it mattered most.
Schumann said the win over the Mountaineers was nice because “Western’s always our big rival, no matter what,” and having it put Mesa in the RMAC driver’s seat “just puts it all together.”