2004-05 Wrestling Preview
The University of Northern Colorado wrestling 2004-05 squad will be the only public Division I school in the state of Colorado fielding a wrestling team.
UNC head coach Jack Maughan said the goal of the Bears wrestling squad will be to return the program to national prominence. UNC has 13 top-25 Division I national finishes in its history but each of those finishes came before 1970.
"Our past successes at the Division I level indicate it's possible for us to return to the national scene and leave our mark," Maughan said.
The 2004-05 version of the Bears will have a much different look from last year's squad that took its lumps in the first year of a Division I transition.
"We are going to field a team on the mat that will have a good mix of redshirts that have national tournament experience with a group of youngsters that were thrown to the wolves as true freshmen," Maughan said. "We will be very competitive this year, but you have to take into account that we will also be stepping up the scheduling as well."
The Bears schedule features a full Division I schedule that includes home matches against Pac-10 and regional opponents.
UNC will have home dual matches against Oregon State (Jan. 14), Portland State (Jan. 16), Fresno State (Jan. 29), Utah Valley State (Feb. 18), North Dakota State (Feb. 18) and Wyoming (Feb. 24).
The Bears will open their home season on Nov. 21 with the Old Chicago Northern Colorado Open.
"It's exciting that we are working toward being an equal of the Division I teams in the nation," Maughan said. "The playing field is not quite even, but we are getting there."
Breakdown by weight
Sophomore Kyle Kaiser will be a returning starter at 125 lbs. Kaiser went 17-17 last season. Kaiser will be backed up by sophomore Matt Cortez. Freshman Blayze Bahe captured a Kansas state title will also look for time at 125.
Sophomore Mark Hastings, who is coming off a redshirt season, will be the starter at 133 pounds. Hastings was a national qualifier at in the Division II ranks as a freshman in 2002-03. Junior Kyle Swenson started the past two seasons, but it scheduled to redshirt this year. A pair of freshmen high school state champions in Kenny Hashimoto and Andy Etzen will could contend for a spot in the lineup.
Junior Mikell Surber returns as the starter at 157 pounds, but will be challenged by junior Mark Reavley, who is moving back from 165 pounds. Surber posted a record of 24-18 in 2003-04, while Reavley went 10-11. Junior Matt Harshman will contend at 157 lbs.
Redshirt freshman Shawn Hart will likely be the starter at 174 pounds. Hart wrestled for the Bears Wrestling Club last season and posted a mark of 14-3. Sophomore transfer Lars Lueders will serve as his backup, while sophomore Alex Joseph will likely redshirt.
All-American Tanner Linsacum returns for his junior season after redshirting last season. Linsacum placed 5th in the nation at the 2003 NCAA Div. II Championships and has posted a career record of 47-30. Linsacum and junior Cole Allison will battle it out for the starting spots at 184 pounds and 197 pounds. Whichever wrestlers wins out, the other grappler may take the 197-pound starting spot. Sophomore Nathan Kimberlin is also in the mix.
While Linsacum and Allison battle it out for the starting spot at 184/197, freshman Tim Sexton will be battling to hold the spot at 197 pounds. Sophomore Reece Hopkin, Last year's starter at 197 pounds, will likely take the year to redshirt and add weight.
UNC is loaded with numbers at the heavyweight position, but a few questions still remain as the year gets underway. Senior All-American Jason McMillan would likely be the starter after he returns from football season. McMillan earned All-American honors at 197 pounds as a freshman at the 2001 NCAA Div. II Championships when he placed 3rd.
McMillan will be challenged by sophomore Matt Sens, who is also starting on the UNC football team. Sens served as the Bears' heavyweight last season after joining the team midway through the year.
Others that could emerge at the heavyweight spot includes a trio of newcomers in Andrew Arellano, Vinny Pallone and Sam Safken. Arellano was a three-time state champion at 215 pounds while at Centauri High School. Pallone won the heavyweight state title in 2003 for Broomfield High School, but has not wrestled since he was a prep. Safken won the heavyweight state championship as a senior at Fruita Monument High School.