January 25, 2012

Home opener goes the way of the Bears

GREELEY – The Northern Colorado wrestling team jumped out to an early lead over Colorado Mesa in its home opener Wednesday night and never looked back, winning eight of the 10 matches for a 28-6 victory.

The Mavericks were ranked 21st in the NCAA Division II rankings.

"Mesa is a tough team," said Northern Colorado Head Coach Ben Cherrington. "They have some kids that could probably wrestle at Division I. Our guys went out and took care of business. We don't have a lot of guys that are high point scorers, but they did what we had to do and they got their hand raised at the end of the match.

The night started at 141 pounds, where senior Casey Cruz recorded a technical fall over Braden Humpherys, 20-4, in six minutes, 31 seconds. Cruz improved to 6-1 in dual matches this year and 12-5 overall.

Sophomore Justin Gonzales then won an 11-6 decision over Trevor Donarski at 149 pounds for the Bears' 8-0 team lead.

"It's nice to keep kids here," said Cherrington about Greeley natives Gonzales and Patrick Gomez. "They draw fans -- they're familiar with them, want to watch them wrestle and when they win, they want to come back."

At 157 pounds, redshirt freshman Charlie McMartin lost a close 6-3 decision to Jon Gappmaier. Gappmaier scored the first three points before McMartin got a takedown late in the second period.

"Individually, I'm pleased with Charlie McMartin," said Cherrington. "He got tech-falled by [Gappmaier] two months ago in our tournament, and tonight he loses by three points. That shows me that we're developing and the guys are getting better."

Senior Gabe Burak won a 6-2 decision at 165 points to extend his winning streak to seven straight matches and push his season record to 14-1.

After Colorado Mesa won by decision at 174 pounds, the Bears won the final five bouts for the 28-6 team win.

Gomez won a 6-4 decision after the two wrestlers were tied at 2-2 after two periods. Bayer then won a 7-2 decision at 197 pounds and freshman Henry Chirino had an exciting major decision at 285 pounds.

Neither wrestler scored in the first period at heavyweight, but Chirino chose down to begin the second period. He escaped and got a takedown and then in the third added two more takedowns and two more escapes in the final stanza, which added to the riding time point, gave him his first bonus point win of the year.

Fellow freshman Jesse Meis also won a major decision at 125 pounds, with a 10-1 win over Parke Overmiller. Meis controlled from the outset for his second dual win of the season.

The evening concluded with a sudden victory win for sophomore Sam Bauer. He led 2-1 after the first period, but Tyler Nelson got a two-point nearfall in the second for a 3-2 lead. Bauer accumulated 1:17 of riding time, however, for the 3-3 tie at the end of the seven minutes. Bauer got aggressive immediately in the one-minute overtime period, notching the takedown with 25 seconds left for the win.

"It's always nice when they go out and take care of business and do what you're supposed to do," said Cherrington. "There was some excitement there as well. I'm pleased with it overall."

The Bears host Chadron State at 6 p.m. Saturday before turning their attention toward Western Wrestling Conference action.