Debus hoping third time is a charm

CHADRON – It would be easy to think a two-time Nebraska state champion with a record of 172 wins to just 19 losses wouldn't have any trouble qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships.

For Jordan Debus, though, that's been anything but the case.

Debus, a junior 184-pounder from Mitchell, has had to battle back from the consolation bracket in the last two regional wrestling tournaments to secure his spot at the national tournament.

"I feel like this is the time where I normally step up and make it," Debus said. "Everyone is beatable and I know I can do it."

Debus will get his chance Friday and Saturday when Chadron State hosts the Super Region 4/Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships at the Nelson Physical Activity Center.

Including Chadron State, 11 other teams will enter the tournament. The top four finishers at each weight qualify for the national tourney March 8-9 in Birmingham, Ala.

Debus, who is nearing 50 victories during his career at Chadron State, knows in order to secure a third trip to the national tourney, he'll have to be at his best.

"It's going to take a lot and my region is pretty tough," he said. "Every school has good wrestlers and we seem to all beat up on each other. I have wrestled most of them, so I have a pretty good idea where I stack up."

Debus has started the regional tournament slowly the previous two seasons but he said he's hoping to get off on the right foot Friday.

As a true freshman in 2011, Debus went 15-16 and qualified for the national tournament by finishing fourth. He got pinned in his first match by Zach Jimenez of San Francisco State but Debus battled back and won three straight, including a 5-3 decision over Jimenez to get into the national tournament.

Debus went 15-11 as a sophomore and again lost his first match at 184 during the first round. However, just like his freshman season, he rallied to win three straight elimination matches before coming out on top during a true fourth place bout to earn his second trip to the national tournament.

While he hasn't won a match at the national tournament, he is the only CSC wrestler on the team who has qualified for it.

Helping Debus capitalize on his potential is interim head coach Brett Hunter. Hunter is the school's all-time winningest wrestler and won two national titles at 165 and 174 pounds.

"Jordan has all the talent in the world, but talent only goes so far," Hunter said. "If he wrestles consistently he will qualify for the national tournament."

Prior to earning his interim appointment, Hunter was a graduate assistant for the Eagles and he's seen Debus grow into a more confident grappler.

"He has improved his offense and he attacks well," Hunter said. "He believes he can win, which is the biggest part of wrestling."

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