CSC hosting Super Region 4 Wrestling Championships this weekend

CHADRON – Wrestling fans are in for a treat in Chadron this weekend.

Chadron State is hosting the Super Region 4/Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships in the Nelson Physical Activity Center. The two-day tournament begins Friday with the first session at 11 a.m. The second session, which is the championship semifinals and the consolation quarterfinals, starts Friday at 5:30 p.m.

Saturday's action gets underway at noon with the consolation semifinals and finals. The championship finals are slated to begin at 5 p.m.

Ticket prices for all sessions are $25 for an adult and $12 for students and senior citizens. In addition, individual session tickets will be sold for $7 and $5.

Free online video also will be available throughout the tournament at RMAC assistant commissioner Eric Danner and Craig Peterson of Rushville will provide commentary for Saturday evening's championship round.

The 12 western-most NCAA Division II teams on the continent will be involved. The top four finishers in each of the 10 weight classes will advance to the National Championships in Birmingham, Ala., on March 8-9.

Eighteen wrestlers who are among the top eight in their weight classes in the latest Wrestling Coaches Association rankings will be among the participants.

"It will be a great tournament," Chadron State interim head coach Brett Hunter said. "There will be lots of great wrestlers, and I'm not talking about just the guys who are ranked. There are always some people who come out of the woodwork and upset guys you never expected them to beat.

"Every team seems to have at least a couple of wrestlers who can win it all if they catch fire. Wrestling is a sport where almost nothing is cut and dried."

This year's tournament has something that's about the same as usual, but also different.

Nebraska-Kearney, which has won nine of the last 11 regional championships and is the reigning national champion, is no longer in the RMAC. However, the Lopers are still assigned to the Super Region 4 Tournament and will be the odds-on favorite to win another title.

Two other teams in the tourney-Fort Hays State of Kansas and Simon Fraser University located at Burnaby, British Columbia-also are not RMAC members. In addition, Grand Canyon University of Phoenix and San Francisco State University are affiliated with the RMAC only for wrestling.

The remainder of the schools-Adams State, Colorado Mesa, Colorado Mines, Colorado State-Pueblo, New Mexico Highlands, Western State Colorado and Chadron State-are RMAC members in all their sports.

The highest placing RMAC team in the regional tourney will be declared the conference's tournament champion. But if a member of one of the three non-RMAC teams wins a weight class, no more matches will take place to determine a conference champion at that weight.

Kearney is seventh in the latest national team rankings and has five nationally ranked wrestlers, the most of any of the teams in the tourney. Even though it has no one on the national list, Colorado Mesa is 14th in the national team standings, followed by Grand Canyon at 19th and Fort Hays State at 20th.

In addition, Adams State vaulted into 11th place the final week of the season and Western State also received votes, but did not crack the top 20.

Both Grand Canyon and Adams State have three ranked wrestlers. Fort Hays, San Francisco and Western State have two and CSU-Pueblo has one-Jesse Hillhouse, the No. 1 rated 125-pounder.

The other No. 1 ranked wrestler is Kearney's Raufeon Stots, the defending national champ at 149 pounds. Stots lost to Grand Canyon's Bobby Ward 4-3 at that weight at the regional tourney last year. Ward is now ranked eighth.

None of the other wrestlers who will be competing in Chadron this weekend has a No. 1 ranking, although Kyle McCrite of Grand Canyon is second at 125. Also ranked second are Chase White of UNK at 157 and Elliot Copeland of Western State at 174.

Hillhouse was the Super 4 Region's 133-pound champion last year, but did not place at the national tournament and dropped down to 125 this year. Meanwhile, McCrite was second at the 2012 regional tourney and then won the 125-pound national championship.

Since joining the RMAC and NCAA in 1990, Chadron State has had 16 regional champions. The last one was Hunter in 2008. He also was the regional winner in 2006 and went on to win national titles both years.

The Eagles have had just one national tournament qualifier each of the past two years. He is Jordan Debus, a 184-pound junior who finished fourth in that weight class both years. Debus has a 16-10 record this season.

Just one 184-pounder in the region, Kyle Piat of Western State, is ranked this year and he's No. 8. However, Hunter said 184 may have the most depth of any of the weights at this year's tourney. He said nine entries appear to have a shot at the title.

The Chadron State coach believes several Eagles have a chance to qualify for nationals this weekend, but noted each of them will have to be at his best to reach that goal.

In addition to Debus, Chadron State's other wrestlers are Jace Johnson (6-14) at 125, Perry McAfee (14-8) at 133, Josh McCance (8-11) at 141, Reed Burgener (5-17) at 149, Bruce Zurek (5-13) at 157, Dylan Fors (11-10) at 165, Bret Klopp (4-4) at 174, Chris Leak (15-11) at 197 and Mike Hill (21-9) at 285.

"We're hoping for a big turnout to help cheer our guys on," Hunter said. "I can guarantee that there'll be some great wrestling taking place."

Super Region 4 Ranked Wrestlers
Weight Ranking, Name, School
125 1. Jesse Hillhouse, CSU-Pueblo
5. Jerry Huff, Adams State
6. Kyle McCrite, Grand Canyon
133 4. Daniel DeShazer, Nebraska-Kearney
141 3. Ryan Fillingame, Adams State
4. Naveed Bagheri, San Francisco State
5. C.J. Napier, Fort Hays State
149 1. Raufeon Stots, Nebraska-Kearney
8. Bobby Ward, Grand Canyon
157 3. Chase White, Nebraska-Kearney
165 3. Isaiah Jimenez, San Francisco State
4. Chase Nelson, Nebraska-Kearney
174 2. Elliot Copeland, Western State
5. Patrick Martinez, Nebraska-Kearney
7. Jarrod Purvis, Adams State
184 8. Kyle Piat, Western State
197 5. Tanner Kriss, Fort Hays State
285 3. Tyrell Fortune, Grand Canyon

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