Donarski grows along with Mesa wrestling program
Trevor Donarski was thinking about this the other day: When he came to Colorado Mesa University five years ago, the program was still relatively new and building. Now, the Mavericks are ranked 13th in the nation with their sights set on the NCAA Division II regional championships in three weeks.
“Lately, I’ve thought how far the team has come since I’ve been here,” Donarski said. “My freshman year we didn’t win any duals. Now, we’re one of the top teams. It’s cool to see it grow.”
The 13th-ranked Mavericks (9-3, 2-1 RMAC) host RMAC preseason favorite No. 15 Adams State (4-5, 2-2 RMAC) at 7 p.m. tonight and CSU-Pueblo (3-6, 1-2 RMAC) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Brownson Arena.
Mesa will recognize four seniors Saturday night in its final home dual of the season. They are Chester Granard, Donarski, Justin Schumacher and Tyler Miles. Miles is a fourth-year junior, but will graduate at the end of the semester.
Daniel Salazar and James Martinez are out with injuries. Jonathon Stelling and Nick Swanson will likely wrestle in their place this weekend.
There is a possibility Salazar and Martinez could return in time for regionals in three weeks. Mesa hosts the NCAA Division II West Regional Feb. 28-March 1 at Brownson Arena.
Donarski, like the Mavericks, has had his ups and downs through his college career and is having his best season in his final year.
“This year, he’s been solid,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “Right now, he’s wrestling the best he’s ever wrestled.
“He’s got everything there. Now, it’s (about) wrestling with confidence.”
The 157-pound senior (16-7) reached the semifinals of the California Collegiate Open on Saturday and placed fourth. His only losses came to a Division I wrestler and the No. 2-ranked wrestler in Division II. He has 15 pins this season, including the quickest pin (24 seconds) on the team.
“I feel a lot better than I did at the beginning of the year,” Donarski said. “I felt like I had to win every match.
“I’m excited for regionals. I wrestled this (California Baptist) kid twice, and he’s ranked No. 2. I really feel like I can beat him. Hopefully I can meet him in the regional finals match. I know I’m right there.”
Donarski was a two-time state champion out of Powell (Wyo.) High School. He was getting recruited by other schools, but he liked the bigger city of Grand Junction.
Pipher planned to redshirt Donarski his freshman year, but former Mesa wrestler Jon Gappmaier couldn’t cut weight to 141, so Pipher put Donarski there.
Donarski wrestled at 141 again as a sophomore. The next year, he moved up to 149. Last year, Donarski redshirted. He is 60-48 in his career.
“The thing about Trevor is, for one, he’s such a quiet kid, but he’s got so much natural talent,” Pipher said. “He’s probably the most naturally talented kid on the team. Just getting him to get that all out on the mat and put it together for him is what we’re looking for. He’s starting to make that happen.
“You won’t find a kid that is a harder worker. Anything he does, lifting, wrestling or running, he does it as hard as he can.”
Through it all, Donarski maintained the work ethic instilled in him by his parents, earning academic All-America honors the past two years. He’s on track to do it again this season with a 3.51 grade-point average.
“My parents made me get good grades since I was little,” Donarski said. “It was pretty much expected in college, too. It’s definitely a lot harder in college, but I’ve found a way to get through it. I’ve been going to the library a lot more. I get work done faster there. There’s a lot more distractions at home.”
Schumacher has worked just as hard since he came to Mesa in 2011. The Western Wyoming College transfer redshirted his first year and has filled in for injured wrestlers the past two seasons. He made the dean’s list last fall.
“He has such a passion for the sport,” Pipher said. “When he’s on the mat he gives you 100 percent. He goes for seven minutes hard. You can never count him out of a match.”
Schumacher was 20-5 last season at 149 pounds and led the nation in pins, he said, but he lost a wrestle-off to Martinez before regionals after Martinez returned from an injury.
“That’s just the way it goes,” Schumacher said. “A lot of it is where my I am. I’m in the melting pot of all our better guys — Jon Gappmaier, James Martinez and Trevor Donarski.”
Schumacher tore a knee ligament a week before this season started. He returned to the mat in January and is 2-3. Schumacher is 35-11 in his career.
“Wrestling is a sport that made me who I am,” Schumacher said. “It made me mature more as an adult. Wrestling with this program gave me the discipline to succeed in the real world.”