Bears Ready To Host NCAA West Regional
Hosting The Big One
Northern Colorado hosts the NCAA West Regional on Saturday, March 7. First round begins at 10:00 a.m. with semifinals scheduled for 11:30 and finals for 4:00 p.m. The regional also serves as the Western Wrestling Conference Championship and the awards will be presented after the conclusion of the NCAA Regional. The West Regional received 13 automatic bids to the NCAA Championship, one for each of the 10 weight classes, plus one extra at 149, 184 and 197 pounds. Tickets are still available by calling 970.351.4TIX or going online at: www.unco.edu/tickets
Alumni Take Note
Did you wrestle for Northern Colorado? Want to see old teammates and meet other members of the Bears family? Then join the coaching staff at Old Chicago's on Friday, March 6 from 6-9 p.m. for just $10 receive appetizers, pizza, a T-Shirt and entrance to the hospitality area at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday. Register online at www.uncalumni.org.
2008 Regional Recap
Northern Colorado returns just three wrestlers from last season's fourth place team. Junior Tony Mustari finished second at 125-pounds, senior Ryan Johnson placed third at 174 pounds and senior Daniel Prater posted a 1-2 mark at 149 pounds, but will wrestle Saturday at 165 pounds. Northern Iowa won its 23rd straight regional title. Mustari earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships from his second-place finish and went 1-2 in St. Louis.
In the final dual of the year, Northern Colorado dropped a 21-15 match to Wyoming. Wyoming won the first three bouts of the evening, as the match started at heavyweight. Justin Tuell lost a 6-1 decision, junior Tony Mustari dropped an 8-2 decision at 125 pounds and Brett Bahe lost an 8-7 overtime decision. The Bears got on the board as junior Kenny Hashimoto, at 141 pounds, pinned Cole Dallaserra in just 0:56. Freshman Mitchell Polkowske won his 26th bout of the year with an 8-3 decision to tie the dual at 9-9. Sophomore Justin Gaethje at 157-pounds, won his 10th straight match with a 5-4 decision to give the Bears the 12-9 lead. Wyoming won both the 174 and 184 weight classes for the 21-12 advantage before freshman Eric Brennan won a 9-8 decision at 197 pounds for the final 21-15 score.
After redshirting last season, to get a look at how junior Kenny Hashimoto has done in Western Wrestling Conference action, one has to go back to 2007. Hashimoto swept the competition at 141 pounds, getting two pins in his three matches en route to being named co-Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament and qualifying for the NCAA Championship where he posted an 0-2 record. This season, Hashimoto is 8-2 overall, his last six victories have all been for extra points and he has posted seven straight wins.
Senior 184-pounder Ryan Johnson was named the Western Wrestling Conference wrestler of the week after posting thrilling wins over North Dakota State and South Dakota State. He recorded an overtime pin over NDSU's Kenny Moenkedick for just the third fall of his career and second this season. He then opened the competition with a 4-3 victory over SDSU's Zach Blindert. It is the first ward for Johnson and second for a Bear this season as freshmen Mitchell Polkowske earned the award on Dec. 2.
Ten Is Wow-Worthy
Justin Gaethje, after sitting out the first semester, has added another punch for the Bears. At 157 pounds, the sophomore has won his last 10 bouts and 12 of his last 13 in amassing a 12-4 record in 2009. Five of those nine straight victories have come by way of fall with another being a major decision as Gaethje continues to earn bonus points for the Bears. Gaethje's 10 match winning streak is also the second longest of the season behind the 16-straight freshman Mitchell Polkowske won at the beginning of the year.
First To 20
Freshman 149-pounder Mitchell Polkowske became the first Bear to reach 20 victories this season and is now 26-6 after a win over Wyoming and he has won nine of his last 10 bouts. His 26 wins are the most for a true freshman since transitioning to Division I, as both juniors Kenny Hashimoto and Tony Mustari won 19 bouts in their freshman years and former wrestler Alex Joseph posted 19 wins in 2003-04, the first year of the transition. Mustari has also topped the 20-win plateau for 2008-09 as he currently sports a record of 23-7.