Mesa lands five at wrestling nationals

Five Colorado Mesa University wrestlers placed in the top four in the NCAA Division II Super Regional 4 tournament Sunday in Hays, Kan., to qualify for nationals.

The 16th-ranked Mavericks qualified the most wrestlers for the NCAA Division II National Championships in one season since the program was reinstated six years ago.

“Oh, it’s great,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “I feel real good about the five going. I wish we had seven or nine, but all coaches want everyone to go.”

Mesa finished fifth with 86 points. No. 3 Nebraska-Kearney won the region team title with 115 points. No. 7 Grand Canyon took second (108.5 points), No. 9 Adams State was third and No. 17 Fort Hays State placed fourth.

Mesa’s two regional champions are the first in the program’s NCAA Division II history.

“It’s awesome to get two regional champions,” Pipher said. “I told the guys a couple nights ago, my darkhorse was Paco (Retana-Quinones). He beat three guys that beat him earlier this year.”

Retana-Quinones (16-21), a redshirt freshman, defeated Fort Hays State’s Justin Glenn 5-4 in overtime of the heavyweight final.

Junior Nick Petersen (26-11) defeated top seed Walker Clarke of Fort Hays State 4-3 in the 184-pound final.

“Nick wrestled really smart,” Pipher said. “He scored a takedown with 30 seconds left and rode him out.”

Mesa junior Jon Gappmaier, sophomore Dylan Granard and redshirt freshman James Martinez qualified.

Gappmaier (29-8) reached the 157-pound final, but couldn’t upset No. 2 T.J. Hepburn of Nebraska-Kearney, losing 14-5.

Granard (15-15) lost a 3-2 decision to Isaiah Jimenez of San Francisco State in the 165-pound final.

Martinez (21-11) came back through the consolation bracket to place fourth, but had to beat a wrestler that won by technical fall over him earlier this season in Nick Mamalis of CSU-Pueblo.

“It was good for James to get in,” Pipher said. “He had to beat a kid that beat him by 18-2 earlier this season.”

Grand Junction High School graduate Robert Tucker, a Mines heavyweight, was eliminated one round shy of placing and didn’t qualify for nationals. Western State’s Kyle Piatt, an Olathe High School graduate, didn’t place or qualify.


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