Grapplers Hope To Bring Home Regional Titles
NCAA West Regional
Northern Colorado travels to Brookings, South Dakota to take place in the NCAA West Regional on Saturday. Automatic berths to the NCAA Championship are on the line as at least the winner of each weight class earns the right to represent the league in Omaha on March 18-20. The Western Wrestling Conference was awarded 14 automatic qualifiers from the West Regional to the NCAA Championship.
Finals To Be Webcast
South Dakota State, the host of the NCAA West Regional, will be video streaming the championship bouts online on Saturday for no charge. Please visit www.gojacks.com to watch the finals live.
2009 West Regional Recap
The Bears hosted the 2009 version of the NCAA West Regional and had five wrestlers in the title bouts of each of the first five weight classes. Mitchell Polkowske, a freshman a year ago, won the title for the Bears at 149 pounds, as did current junior Justin Gaethje at 157 pounds. Seniors Tony Mustari (125) and Kenny Hashimoto (141) and sophomore Brett Bahe (133) all finished second as the Bears finished third with 70.5 points. Gaethje is the only Bear defending his title at the 2010 NCAA West Regional however, as Polkowske is serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
In the third and final NCAA Division I wrestling RPI rankings and coaches panel rankings, the Northern Colorado squad has both senior Kenny Hashimoto (141 pounds) and junior Justin Gaethje (157 pounds) appearing in both rankings. Hashimoto is No. 14 in the RPI ranking and second among Western Wrestling Conference competitors as Air Force's Cole VonOhlen is ninth. In the coaches panel, Hashimoto ranks 22nd, trailing VonOhlen who is No. 18. Gaethje is also No. 14 in the RPI and is the top-ranked WWC wrestler at 157 pounds. Both Tyson Reiner (21) from Northern Iowa and Vince Salminen (24) from South Dakota State also rank among the top 25. IN the coaches panel, Reiner ranks 29th, while Gaethje sits in 30th.
First To 20
Junior Justin Gaethje (157) became the first Bear to 20 wins in the 2009-10 season with his fall against North Dakota State. Gaethje is 23-11 this season and now 55-26 in his career. He has seven more wins than any other teammate this season and ranks among the top 10 in the Western Wrestling Conference in terms of wins. Gaethje also posted the best mark of any teammate in Western Wrestling Conference action this season with his record of 5-1.
Last Time Out
Starting at heavyweight, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley battled back-and-forth, but the Wolverines won the final four bouts for the 25-10 victory on senior night. Senior Justin Tuell got the Bears on board first, winning his third-straight bout with a 4-1 decision over Casen Eldridge. The most thrilling match of the night for the fans happened at 125 pounds as the great rivalry continued between NC senior Tony Mustari and UV junior Ben Kjar. Mustari got the first points off a takedown, but Kjar scored the next three and entered the third period with a 3-2 advantage. After the conclusion of regulation the wrestlers were knotted at 5-5 thanks in part to 2:26 of riding time for Mustari. There was no scoring in the first two overtimes and with just 12 seconds remaining, Kjar got the escape for the 6-5 win. Sophomore Brett Bahe took the mat next and won his third-straight bout with a 7-5 decision over Flint Ray. Utah Valley won the next two weight classes by decision and the first bonus point victory of the night came at 157 pounds as junior Justin Gaethje posted a 12-0 win over Jamision Moss for the Bears final points of the evening.
Oh So Close
Senior Tony Mustari (125) is now just one victory shy of appearing on the school's all-time career victories list. Mustari sits with 87 wins, while Lanny Paulson (1980-83) and Marty Vigil (1988-92) are tied for ninth on the chart with 88 wins.
Honored - Twice
Both junior Justin Gaethje (157) and senior Kenny Hashimoto (141) have been named Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Week this season. Hashimoto earned the award after his 4-0 performance at the Northeast Collegiate Duals, while Gaethje was honored after his wins against Ohio and fifth-ranked Minnesota.
The award for quickest pin so far this season goes to senior Justin Tuell (285) at just 15 seconds. Tuell recorded his fall over William Lewman from Western Wyoming in the second round of the Old Chicago's Open. Northern Colorado has recorded 27 falls so far this season with senior Tony Mustari (125) and sophomore Casey Cruz (133/141) tied for the team lead with four each. Senior Kenny Hashimoto (141) has a team-best 21 falls for his career with the Bears.