Year away from wrestling helped Walker find his path, get serious about school
Normally it’s not a good idea to take a year off wrestling if you hope to be successful.
However, when Chase Walker looks back, that break worked for him.
The Mesa State College junior is ranked fourth in the nation at 157 pounds. He’s 15-3 heading into the Mavericks’ first home dual of the season at 7 p.m. on Saturday against Colorado School of Mines at Brownson Arena.
“It was good to have a year off to refocus and see what I wanted in life,” Walker said. “It didn’t help with wrestling. I was a year behind mentally.
“I go to class now. I know what I want to do (after college).”
The construction management major admits he went to college originally for wrestling. He
won a junior college national title his first year.
The next fall, he transferred to the University of Northern Colorado and decided to major in sports & exercise science. He sat out the wrestling season as a redshirt, and was losing interest in school and wrestling.
He returned to Greeley the next year, but after the first semester, Walker realized he wasn’t enjoying school and he wasn’t wrestling, so he returned home to Morgan, Utah.
“A lot of kids think they are ready to go work out of high school,” Mesa State coach Chuck Pipher said. “They are sick of school, but when they are out there in the labor force, they realize their opportunity to wrestle went by the wayside. There are great jobs out there, but all in all, it’s better for them to get an education and have a better life.”
Back home, Walker found a job working construction. He also found his passion.
A few months later, Walker was considering enrolling at Weber State to study construction management and give up on wrestling. About that time, a friend told him about the Mavericks’ wrestling program.
Mesa State, though, didn’t have its construction management program in place yet, and Walker was going to turn down the opportunity to wrestle.
Then he found out the college’s construction management program was starting in January 2008.
He had to sit out two semesters of wrestling for transfer reasons, but became eligible after the fall semester ended. Before Christmas, Walker wrestled in two open tournaments as an unattached wrestler, winning four matches in the University of Wyoming Open. A few weeks later, he won the Bob Smith Open title. In his first tournament as part of the Mavs’ lineup, he reached the final of the Midwest Classic.
“I’m liking wrestling again,” Walker said. “I missed it.”
He’s wrestling at the same weight he wrestled three years ago when he won the junior college 157-pound national title, but Pipher says Walker has handled keeping his weight down.
“He cuts weight well,” Pipher said. “He hardly misses a meal. He’ll be seven pounds over and eat breakfast, then work off four pounds, and is always making weight. He’s disciplined in that way. A lot of guys don’t eat all day and have to work a pound and a half off. That’s not healthy. He’s been good for the other guys in that way.”
His lofty ranking and experience have him in line to contend for a NCAA Division II tournament berth. Walker, though, wants a lot more.
“I have the same goal as before, to win nationals,” Walker said. “It will be tough. A two-time national champion is in my weight class, but I’ve won at every level.”
Pipher believes it’s possible.
“Things have got to happen right, but he’s definitely a contender for the national title,” Pipher said. “The thing is, the No. 1 guy in the nation is a two-time national champion. If he could do it, that would be huge for the program and himself.”