Stepping stone for Mavericks
Granard, Peterson will earn All-America wrestling honors
PUEBLO — Colorado Mesa University wrestlers won’t win a national title today, but two will earn All-America honors.
Chester Granard and Nick Petersen will place in the top eight after winning consolation matches Friday night in the NCAA Division II tournament at Massari Arena.
“It’s bittersweet,” CMU coach Chuck Pipher said. “To have two All-Americans is a good step for the program.”
Mesa is in 20th place with 11.5 points. RMAC champion Nebraska-Kearney is first with 56.5 points. St. Cloud State is second with 41.
After a slow start figuring out his opponent, Granard dominated Thad Frick of East Stroudsburg (Pa.), winning 10-5 in the consolation second round.
“That first shot I took, we got in a weird scramble, then I figured I had to wrestle smarter,” Granard said. “I dominated him on top. That’s what won the match.”
Granard (19-17) won his first-round match 3-1 in overtime over Thomas Graszi of Ashland (Ohio).
He lost 9-0 to Mike Williams of North Carolina-Pembroke in the quarterfinals.
“That guy is pretty good in his style,” Granard said. “It was hard for me to wrestle his style. I figured I had one more match to win and I’d be an All-American.”
Petersen (30-14) was barely cleared to wrestle Friday morning because of a cold sore — rules prohibit wrestling with an open wound.
The 184-pound junior had to overcome a heartbreaking overtime loss in the first round to win two consolation matches.
“After the first match, I was in my own little world,” Petersen said. “Everyone was telling me to forget that match. I was looking at it thinking if I wrestle like that again I’m going 0-2. I used it to drive me and wrestle better.”
Petersen pinned Zach Benzio of Seton Hill (Pa.) in 5:59, then defeated Zack Zelcs of Gannon (Pa.) 6-4.
Petersen received All-America honors twice in junior college.
Jon Gappmaier (28-12) couldn’t overcome a tough quarterfinal loss and was eliminated in the second round of consolation.
The 157-pound junior won his first-round match and led Bobby Williams of Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) 6-3 in the quarterfinals, but lost in overtime.
East Stroudsburg’s Braden Turner broke a tie with a takedown in the third period for a 5-2 consolation victory.
“(Gappmaier) stuck around all summer and worked his butt off, I really feel bad for him,” Pipher said. “He lost his momentum. He looked like he lost his conditioning there.”
Mesa’s redshirt freshmen, James Martinez and Paco Retana, endured a learning experience, each going 0-2.
“They’ve had a great year,” Pipher said. “The way I look at it, our newest guys to the national tournament got some exposure to what this is about.”
The 141-pounder couldn’t figure out a way to score points on King (Tenn.) College’s Tywan Claxton in a 7-3 loss in the first round.
In the consolation match, Martinez (21-16) couldn’t overcome an early deficit in a 10-8 loss to Aaron Smith of American International (Mass.) College.
“I didn’t wrestle the best I could’ve,” Martinez said. “It may be my weight. Maybe I’m not eating right. There are so many factors.”
Heavyweight Retana, who weighs nearly 70 pounds below the maximum limit of 285, was eliminated in an 8-1 loss to Central Oklahoma’s Cody Dauphin in the consolation bracket.
Retana (16-25) led Brandan Clark of Kutztown (Pa.) University at one point in the first round, but Clark reversed him in the third period and held on to win 11-10.
“It can only be good for the future,” Retana said. “I love the big stage. It was a good experience. I didn’t wrestle like I should’ve.”