Salazar thrown into fray
Freshman ready for college wrestling
Daniel Salazar expected to redshirt like most freshmen when the Colorado Mesa University wrestling season started.
Most of the freshmen on the team will, but not Salazar.
The Palisade High School graduate most likely will wrestle at 125 pounds this season for the Mavericks.
“I wasn’t sure, but I figured wherever they wanted me, it didn’t matter that much,” Salazar said of wrestling his freshman year. “I was a little bit surprised.”
Salazar proved he deserves a shot Wednesday night, defeating another freshman, Diego Pons, 7-0 in the Mavericks’ Maroon & White scrimmage at Brownson Arena. The White team won 27-23.
“I’m excited,” Salazar said. “I think I have a spot if I can make it down to 25s. I’m excited to see what I can do.”
He is wrestling at 133 pounds now and will drop down to 125 when senior Tyler Nelson returns from a minor knee injury.
“Daniel is wrestling well for us,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “We’re working on him a little bit to see where his weight winds up. He’s definitely going to wrestle this year. He’s not redshirting.”
Pons, who is missing his left leg below the knee, will redshirt, and Pipher said Pons simply wanted an opportunity to wrestle in college.
“Diego is a great kid,” Pipher said. “He just wanted an opportunity to wrestle somewhere, and that’s what we gave him. With what (assistant coach Chris) Freije knows working with Anthony Robles ... that’s helped Diego so far.”
Robles, who was born with one leg, was an NCAA Division I national champion in 2011 for Arizona State University. Frejie grew up with Robles and wrestled him in high school.
Another freshman, Grand Junction High School graduate Jessie Hoffschneider, gave two-time NCAA national qualifier and All-American Chester Granard a tough match at 165. Granard scored an escape in the third period for a 3-2 decision. Hoffschneider likely will redshirt.
“Jessie wrestled tough,” Pipher said. “He hung right in there. He’s a solid wrestler. It came right down to the end there. A little more time there, and that match changes. Chester’s been around and was able to fight that single lock (takedown) off long enough. That’s going to no doubt make Chester a better wrestler, and having someone like Jessie in our room, if he redshirts this year, that makes our room tougher.”
Montrose High graduate Drew Schumann showed why he’ll wrestle for the Mavericks at 141 pounds with a 6-2 victory over freshman Shannon Maris, a two-time Washington state high school champion.
“Schumann wrestled a good, young kid out of Washington,” Pipher said. “(Maris) is a two-time (state champion) and a good recruit. He just got beat on the experience side. It’s good for these freshmen.”
Returning starters James Martinez and Paco Retana pinned their opponents.
Sophomore 197-pounder Jordan Passehl is out with a knee injury and won’t return until after Christmas.
Mesa has three duals Friday at Brownson Arena, beginning with Sierra (Calif.) Community College at 3 p.m., Western Wyoming College at 5 p.m. and Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) Aeronautical University at 7 p.m.
Sierra placed fourth in the California Community College state championships. Western Wyoming placed in the top 20 in the NJCAA national championships. Embry-Riddle is an NAIA school.
The Mavericks host 10 teams for their second annual Colorado Mesa Open, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at Brownson Arena. Teams include RMAC rivals Western State Colorado University, New Mexico Highlands, Chadron State, Colorado School of Mines and some wrestlers from Adams State.
Pipher expects close to 200 wrestlers. They had fewer than 100 last year.
“Part of that was moving it to this weekend,” Pipher said of the increased participation. “A good date is everything. Last year, we had it during finals for a lot of schools.”
More than 30 Mavericks will wrestle this weekend, including most of the returning starters.