Walker outwrestles familiar foe Grater

Ranked rivals go head to toe

Mesa State’s Chase Walker and Fort Hays State University wrestle Friday night at Brownson Arena.  The two rank No. 3 and No. 4 in the nation. PHOTO BY DANIELLE STOMBERG

They’ve never been friends or lived in the same state, but wrestlers Chase Walker and Danny Grater know each other pretty well.

They met for the second time this season Friday night in a matchup of the third and fourth ranked wrestlers in all of NCAA Division II at 157 pounds.

“You know you’ve wrestled him before, so the match would be close because you both know what each other does,” Walker said. “You’ve got to find more ways to score. I had more opportunities, but I need to take advantage of them. He had a couple on me too.”

No. 3 Walker (21-4) was able to score the only takedown of the match in the third period and hold on for a 3-2 victory, but it wasn’t enough for the Mavericks (4-5-1, 3-3-1 RMAC).

No. 19 Fort Hays State defeated Mesa State 31-6 in an RMAC dual on Friday night at Brownson Arena. The Tigers (7-2, 4-0 RMAC) won eight of the 10 matches, including one by pin and one by injury default.

“I don’t know if I was pleased with any match,” Mesa State coach Chuck Pipher said.

“We’re wrestling tight; we’re wrestling scared. We’re not pulling the trigger on our shots and we work on shots every day.”

Walker and Rhett Breed were the only ones to win and even they weren’t satisfied.

“I wrestled him different (Friday),” Walker said. “I set up my shots different. I got him to his knees, the shots were there, but I need to take more shots.

“I thought I had him on his back, but I couldn’t really tell. I knew I was going to finish because he was tired of reaching.”

Pipher was pleased with Walker.

“(Grater) didn’t quite come after Chase like he did before,” Pipher said. “Chase wrestled smart. He got his shot when it was there. We were close to having a fall there. It was a good match for him. I thought we were going to get the defensive fall.”

Breed (12-6) took Travis Kuhn (7-10) down midway through the final period to take a 5-4 lead and scored a 3-point near fall for an 8-4 lead then held on for an 8-7 win.

“At the end, he kept shooting the same deal,” Breed said. “I was waiting for it and waiting for it then finally hit that throw. It was there, but I should’ve done it a lot earlier.

“I felt heavy on my feet. My head wasn’t right. I don’t know what the deal was, but everybody has those nights and tonight was mine.”

Fort Hays’ James Annon, ranked third at 141 pounds, responded with an 11-6 win over Jason Wenger, then Levi Younkin defeated Keith Johnson 5-2 at 149 for a 9-3 lead.

Walker got the Mavericks’ within three at 9-6, but Cole Johnson wasn’t able to keep the momentum going.

The junior (11-14) came out aggressively in the 165-pound match, trying to build on Walker’s momentum. Instead, the Tigers’ Troy Lussenhop (17-7) took Johnson down for two points and picked up two more points when time was stopped for an injury to Johnson.

He sustained a hamstring injury and could not continue, giving Lussenhop a win by injury default. That pushed Fort Hays’ lead to 15-6.

“Cole wrestled a lot more aggressive. He wrestled better than what I’ve seen in a long time.” Pipeher said. “We’ll see what the injury is like and come from there. If we get a win there, it changes the dual and the dynamics. Still, we had to win more than two. We needed a win by Keith (Johnson) and he didn’t pull the trigger either.

“You do wrestle on momentum, but when somebody loses, you can’t hang your head.

We’ve got to have more team unity there.”

From there, the Tigers won two more decisions and had a pin.

Shawn Kuhlman defeated Kyle Brightman 12-2 at 174 pounds then Tyler Gonzalez defeated Luke Laurita 5-0 at 184. The Tigers’ Ben Evans pinned Andy Laiminger, who was wrestling up a weight in place of the injured James Breidel, and Justin Glenn defeated the Mavs’ Dwayne Bacon at heavyweight.


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