Mavs’ Salazar in national wrestling semis
Daniel Salazar might have been a little too excited in his first match Friday at the NCAA Division II national wrestling championships.
The Colorado Mesa senior 141-pound wrestler recovered and wrestles in the semifinals this morning.
“I think I might have been a little too jittered up in that first match, but when you get down 6-0 right away it calms you down,” Salazar said with a laugh after rallying for a 10-8 first-round victory over sixth-ranked Chris Eddins of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, then moving into the semis with a 5-3 win over Bryce Killian of King (Tennessee).
“You take a step back and get your head on a little bit. My motto this week is it’s all just extra. I never thought I was going to get this year, so I was going to come out and just wrestle. It paid off.”
Salazar, a senior from Palisade, received a medical redshirt exemption after last season because of a knee injury his freshman year, giving him a fifth year to compete.
He was the only CMU wrestler to advance to today. Juaquin Olivas took on the No. 1-ranked wrestler at 133 pounds, losing 6-3, then lost his first-round consolation match 3-1 in overtime.
Bruno Nicoletti also went 0-2 in a pair of close matches at 174 pounds. Against third-ranked Adam Cooling of Minnesota State, Nicoletti scored an escape point in the final seconds, but didn’t have enough time to take Cooling down, falling 3-2.
He dropped his consolation match to Justan Rivera of Notre Dame 3-1 on a second-period reversal.
Jason Buhr lost to top-ranked Isaiah White of Notre Dame 14-6 in the first round, then won a wild 18-14 decision over Kade Kitchens of Shorter in the first round of consolation. Buhr scored eight points in the second period after nearly being pinned in the first.
Buhr then lost to RMAC nemesis JaCobi Jones of CSU-Pueblo, 11-6.
“They’ve battled for years and Jason can’t quite get his number,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said.
The three first-time national qualifiers all return next season.
“All in all, they did pretty good,” Pipher said. “Getting them here is huge for us.“They will now be in Salazar’s corner as he tries to become the second CMU wrestler to win a Division II national championship.
The senior from Palisade knows he can’t dig himself a hole early today.
“I had watched some video on the kid and I knew he’d try to hit the slide-by and get a leg and cradle, and that’s exactly what he did,” Salazar said of Eddins. “I fought off the cradle and I think he was juiced from holding that cradle for so long. My M.O. when a kid gets tired, I put it on him. I got back in it and knew I could score some points and get it close.”
He got on top early in the quarterfinals against Killian with a first-period takedown, then added another in the third and picked up a riding time point to reach the semifinals.
The semifinals, where Salazar (31-9) faces Darren Wynn (37-7) of McKendree, begin at 9 a.m (MST) and can be viewed online at TrackWrestling.com.
“Daniel can scramble. I think if we can get the chance to motor him and get him gassed a little bit, Daniel can get the upper hand,” Pipher said. “We’ve been through some hard times here with Daniel and this is pretty exciting for him.”
Salazar is far from satisfied.
“It was a goal to get All-American and I’m going to come out firing and looking to get in that final,” he said. “It’s my last go, so you have to have an extra chip on your shoulder and motivation to get it done. I know it’s possible.”