National focus: Goal for Mesa’s Stapp is national tournament
Trevor Stapp came to Mesa State College a couple of years ago to play football. It didn’t take long for him to prove he belongs.
He earned a starting position on the offensive line as a redshirt freshman and he nearly qualified for the NCAA Division II national wrestling tournament last year.
“He was an overtime win from qualifying for nationals,” Mesa State coach Chuck Pipher said. “If he gets fifth, he qualifies because he beat the fourth-place wrestler.”
Stapp is set on making it to nationals this season.
“Toward the end of last season, that was my goal, to qualify for nationals, but I lost my last match,” he said. “That’s my goal again this year, too.”
Stapp (7-9), who missed the first two weeks of the wrestling season to rest from a physical football season, is getting better as the season progresses. He pinned two opponents last week in the Tracy Borah Duals in Gunnison.
“He started slower this year,” Pipher said. “He came in beat-up and wore out physically, but he’s starting to come on. He wrestled his best matches last weekend.
“It’s hard to do two sports. He’s proven it can be done. He’s a tough kid.”
Stapp faces an old nemesis, Richard Hernandez, when the Mavericks host 19th-ranked Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University at 7 p.m. on Friday at Brownson Arena.
Mesa State (2-3, 1-2 RMAC) wrestles Chadron State (Neb.) College (3-6, 0-3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Brownson Arena. Chadron wrestles Grand Canyon (9-6, 3-1), a third-year program, at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Brownson Arena.
Mesa sophomore Rhett Breed, though, will not wrestle this weekend. The 141-pounder injured his knee and is out until at least regionals and may not return this season. Freshman Trevor Donarski, who was redshirting, will take Breed’s place. Donarski (15-8) has wrestled several open tournaments as an unattached wrestler this season.
Cole Johnson and Andy Laiminger are back in the lineup this week. Johnson, a 165-pound senior, will wrestle for the first time since injuring his shoulder three weeks ago in a dual against New Mexico Highlands.
Stapp wrestled Hernandez in high school in Arizona. Hernandez, who is two years older, used to get the best of Stapp.
“We pretty much split most of the matches,” Stapp said. “He had a few years on me and a couple pounds.
“I didn’t like him too much back in the high school days.”
They met again nearly three weeks ago in the consolation of the Utah Valley Open, with Hernandez defeating Stapp 5-2.
Mesa State has four RMAC duals left before the NCAA West Regional tournament in four weeks.
All four heavyweight national qualifiers last year return this season, including Highlands’ Jesse Boggs, who Stapp pinned in a dual three weeks ago.
“If he wrestles like he is now, he has as good a shot as anybody (to qualify for nationals),” Pipher said. “We wrestle a lot of conference duals here. Friday night will be a good test.”