CMU’s Petersen delays church mission to pursue degree, national title
Petersen delays LDS serviceto pursue degree, national title
Junior college student-athlete transfers often have a difficult time deciding where to go.
Colorado Mesa University junior Nick Petersen had a tough decision to make, but it had nothing to do with school.
It was whether to go on his two-year Latter-Day Saints Church mission or continue his education and wrestling.
“I was going to go on a mission, but it changed at the last minute,” Petersen said. “I wasn’t sure what to do.
“It was really tough. I figured to take two years off from wrestling is hard. I could take two years (and go on a mission) or finish out school now.”
Petersen, who is considering going on a mission after his two years at Mesa, chose school — and wrestling.
“He really fits in our program,” Mesa coach Chuck Pipher said. “He’s at 184 (pounds), where we had a hole. Both of the guys we had there are injured.”
Petersen (8-2), who won the Northern Colorado Open three weeks ago, will attempt to add the first-ever Colorado Mesa Open title to his resume this weekend. The tournament features seven teams and begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Brownson Arena. The Mavericks host Western State College in an RMAC dual at 7 p.m. on Friday at Brownson.
Western State will join No. 13 Adams State, No. 5 Grand Canyon (Ariz.) and Division I programs Utah Valley, Northern Colorado and Wyoming in the Colorado Mesa Open.
Mesa will have close to 30 wrestlers competing in the tournament, including several back from nagging injuries. Heavyweight Trevor Stapp could be in the lineup, but only recently returned to the team after the football season. Dylan Granard isn’t expected to wrestle Saturday because of a required academic test.
Petersen will be in the lineup, though, and is excited to wrestle in front of the home crowd.
“I kind of knew Coach (Chuck) Pipher before I came here and kept that relationship,” Petersen said. “I like the local support, school support. This school really supports its athletic programs and I really like that.”
Choosing Colorado Mesa was the easy part of Petersen’s decision.
Two of his high school teammates, Jordan Sorenson and Chasen Tolbert, came to Mesa out of high school two years ago, but have left to go on their LDS missions after one year at Mesa.
“A lot (of LDS missionaries) can’t do it. They’ll take two years off, come back and are not the same.
“A lot of it is physical, but a lot of it is mental, too. Wrestling is an individual sport. You have to think for yourself. You have to push yourself all the time.”
Petersen went to Northwest Wyoming his first year and made a big impact, earning All-America honors.
The next year he had the No. 1 ranking attached to his name and carried it through, winning a national title.
“That was pretty incredible,” Petersen said. “It was a neat experience. It’s one of those moments you really can’t describe. I couldn’t stop smiling, that’s for sure.”
He wants nothing less than another national title and has been a leader in the practice room.
“He brought a new dimension to the (practice) room,” Pipher said. “He works out after practice and does the little things that you like to carry over to the team.
“Sometimes you have junior college guys that don’t always buy in to the program, but he totally bought in to the program. He’s always asking questions, wondering about certain positions and techniques. He’s very coachable.
“He wants to learn every day. That’s what makes him a national champion.”