ThunderWolves send two to nationals
Two others narrowly miss out on berths after losing 'true fourth place' matches.
HAYS, Kan. (GoThunderWolves.com - Feb. 26, 2012) - CSU-Pueblo has qualified two wrestlers to nationals in Jesse Hillhouse (Jr., Casper, Wyo.) and Trevor Grant (So., Winnemucca, Nev.), with three others placing in the top six at their respective weight at the RMAC/Super Region 4 Championships.
Hillhouse wrestled his way all the way to the 133-pound championship match, but suffered a mild upset when he lost by a 5-1 decision to Adams State's Ryan Fillingame. Hillhouse, who entered the tournament ranked second in the nation at his weight, lost to Fillingame for the second time in three chances this season. Fillingame is the only Division II 133-pounder to defeat Hillhouse this season.
Grant placed fourth at 174 pounds after first wrestling to the semifinals in the winners' bracket Saturday and finishing just a point away from qualifying for the 174-pound finals. He had eventual champion, Grand Canyon's Victor Carazo, on the ropes as he was just shy in a 3-2 decision. Grant then rallied to defeat Chadron State's Bret Klopp 11-8 in the consolation semifinals before Nebraska-Kearney's Mark Fiala handed Grant a narrow 3-1 defeat in the third-place match.
The ThunderWolves were just a hair away from sending another two wrestlers to nationals as 125-pounder Tim Urenda (Fr., Pueblo, Colo.) and 184-pounder Adam Carey (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) got a chance to challenge for a trip to nationals in a "true fourth place" match, but each fell shy. "True fourth place" matches take place if the fourth place finisher had not yet faced the fifth place finisher. They are required since the top four finishers at each weight qualify for nationals.
In Urenda's fourth-place match, he was pinned by Fort Hays State's Collin Hase at 1:55 of the first period, undoing an impressive tournament for the true freshman as he advanced all the way to the semifinals in the winners' bracket on Saturday before being forced to work his way through the consolation bracket. After falling to eventual consolation champion, Western State's Dustin Stiegemeyer, Urenda rallied to claim fifth place by defeating San Francisco State's Andrew Yu by a 5-3 decision, setting up the fourth-place match.
Carey's road was even more arduous. A dark horse favorite to compete for a championship, he lost the opening match of the tournament to Western State's Kyle Piatt. But Carey rattled off two straight wins, including a 15-3 major decision over Colorado Mines' Ryan Swanson and a 5-3 overtime win over San Francisco State's Zachariah Jiminez to get to the consolation semifinals. But an 8-1 loss to eventual consolation champion, Nebraska-Kearney's Ross Brunkhardt, set up Carey for his fifth place finish and his showdown in the "true fourth place" match.
But Chadron State's Jordan Debus barely edged out Carey in a 4-3 decision, denying him the opportunity to compete at nationals in front of his home crowd in Pueblo.
Overall, CSU-Pueblo finished 7th place out of 11 teams, the ThunderWolves' best team finish since winning the RMAC title in 2001.
Hillhouse and Grant will wrestle in front of their home crowd at the NCAA Division II National Championships, hosted by Colorado State University-Pueblo, on March 9-10.