Gappmaier hopes to cap up-and-down season with national berth

Jon Gappmaier, top, has turned his season around since Christmas. The 157-pound redshirt sophomore has a chance to be a high seed in the regional and could possibly earn a berth in the national tournament.

When Jon Gappmaier graduated from high school, he wanted to wrestle in college.

After one year of trying to go without wrestling and focusing on school, Gappmaier came to Mesa State College to do both.

“I planned on coming here, but my parents were more into academics and the U (University of Utah) was a better choice for that,” Gappmaier said. “I came here on a trip and planned on coming here. About halfway through (the first year), I talked to Coach and said I want to come back.”

One year later, the redshirt sophomore, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, has a good chance to place in the top four at the NCAA Division II Super Regionals on Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco and qualify for the NCAA Division II Championships in two weeks in Kearney, Neb.

“My one goal is to make nationals,” Gappmaier said. “I know I can do it, I’ve just got to go there and do it. I’ve got to wrestle like I can.”

Gappmaier came to Mesa State in the fall of 2009. He got off to a great start, winning the University of Wyoming Open amateur division 141-pound title and took second in the Northern Colorado Open the following weekend.

He struggled to stay at 141 pounds over the Christmas break and decided to redshirt last year.

“This year, I wanted to be more consistent,” Gappmaier said. “I was going to 49s, but when I started cutting it was kind of hard, so I decided to stay at 57s. It worked out for the best.”

He struggled to be consistent on the mat until the turn of the calendar to 2011.

“He’s been up and down on the year,” Mesa State coach Chuck Pipher said. “He didn’t start out real great. He came back after Christmas and didn’t wrestle well. He had to change his style a bit. We had to get him to where he was attacking the legs more. He has really come on at the end. He’s had some good matches.”

Gappmaier (15-11) credits assistant coach Chris Freije for his turnaround.

“I worked on a lot of positioning and conditioning with Freije,” Gappmaier said, “just controlling the match really.”

Pipher believes Gappmaier has a shot at one of the top seeds in the regional tournament. The coach hopes to qualify a few wrestlers for nationals, but admits the region, made up of RMAC schools, is tough.

Chester Granard, Shane Miller and Zak Slotten could get a high seed. Brackets and pairings will be released Friday.

“It’s tough to say,” Pipher said. “Realistically, four or five guys would be a good number. We could wind up with two or three, or six or seven if guys went in and wrestled and we gel. I feel real good about our team.

“We feel we’ll be as good as we can possibly be. We’re pretty healthy. We have a few dings, but that’s normal. We have to keep our head and wrestle smart.”


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