UNC Wrestling Season Preview
The University of Northern Colorado wrestling squad will have a significantly new look to them in the 2003-04 season. With the onset of the Bears' Division I move, head coach Jack Maughan is looking to redshirt most of his upperclassmen and give the newcomers a chance to show what they can do on the mat.
"We probably should have redshirted a few of our returners (Tanner Linsacum, Cole Allison, Jared Deaguero) when they came into the program," Maughan said. "But they are going to take the redshirt now and then reevaluate where they are after this year. Wrestling is similar to football in that it's a physical sport where you need to mature physically before you are able to perform at the highest level."
The Bears return eight of 10 starters from a year ago and three All-Americans, so it looks as if the cupboard is far from bare. Maughan said from a numbers standpoint the season outlook looks good.
"We've got three All-Americans and plenty of experience returning but we are hoping to try and limit the transition process from Div. II to Div. I from the four-limitation that we must go through. If we can limit the transition process for some of the individual sports' athletes then redshirting our upperclassmen this year may, and I stress may, give them an opportunity to compete for a national berth before their career is over."
Maughan said the growing pains may be tough this year with such a young lineup.
"There are upsides and downsides to going with a lot of freshmen in the lineup," Maughan said. "You know that you can come in right away and wrestle for a Division I program. Plus, you need to get mat experience at the Division I level and our newcomers are being thrown right into the action."
Maughan said this year could be the most challenging schedule he has put together in his 17 years as the Bears' head coach. UNC has schedule 16 events and 12 of those will feature Division I competition.
The Bears will host five dual matches and the preseason Mr. Goodcents UNC Open (Nov. 22) this year at Butler-Hancock Hall. UNC will host Chadron State (Jan. 16), Feb. 8 (Air Force), Feb. 15 (North Dakota State), Feb. 15 (Cal.-State Fullerton) and Feb. 26 (Utah Valley State).
To complete the season, the Bears will head to Rochester, Minn., to compete in the USA Wrestling Collegiate Championships.
"The USA Wrestling championships will serve as a good end-all for our season since we won't be able to qualify for the NCAA championships," Maughan said. "It gives our athletes at least an opportunity to compete at a national level against top competition."
In addition, Maughan will searching for his 100th dual victory this season. Maughan has tallied 97 career wins at UNC since his hiring in 1987.
Breakdown by weight
UNC returns five national qualifiers and three All-Americans but do not expect to see those wrestlers in action for the Bears in 2003-04.
True freshmen Alex Joseph and Zach Broughton will attempt to take over at 165 lbs., while Jared Deaguero serves a redshirt season. Then either Joseph or Broughton will wrestle at 174 lbs., while Tanner Linsacum also takes a redshirt year.
Freshman Nathan Fox will take over the heavyweight duties, while senior Jason McMillan completes his football season. After football closes, McMillan will decide if he wants to redshirt or wrestle in his final season.