Huskies Wrestling to battle No. 16 Western Colorado, (RV) Chadron State and San Francisco State on Sunday
ST. CLOUD, Minn. – No. 1 St. Cloud State Wrestling begins their dual season with three matches at the Chadron State Duals in Chadron, Nebraska on Sunday. The Huskies wrestle No. 16 Western Colorado at 10:00 a.m. CT, (RV) Chadron State at 1:00 p.m. CT and San Francisco State at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday at the Chicoine Center.
St. Cloud State begins their appearance at the Chadron State Duals with a bout against No. 16 Western Colorado. The Huskies are 3-1-1 all-time versus the Mountaineers in a series that began in 1965-66. SCSU defeated Western 33-16 at the 2020 NWCA National Duals in their last meeting behind four bonus-point wins.
Sizing Up the Mountaineers
No. 16 Western Colorado enters the Chadron State Duals 1-1 with a 27-9 win over then-No. 10 Colorado Mesa and a 29-18 loss to Air Force. The Mountaineers are led by four NWCA-ranked wrestlers with a particularly-strong middle weight group – No. 4 Hunter Mullin competes at 165, No. 5 Jason Hanenberg is a staple at 149 with No. 9 Cole Hernandez at 174 and No. 12 Patrick Allis at 125. Mullin and Allis have each earned All-American honors in their careers while Hanenberg is a two-time NCAA qualifier. Head coach Charlie Pipher is fresh off earning his 50th collegiate win in Western’s dual with Colorado Mesa.
Not Much History
Very few Huskies have collegiate matches against WCU wrestlers under their belts. No. 2 Joey Bianchini lost by fall to Jason Hanenberg in 2019 at 141 pounds – one of just three losses that the redshirt senior has taken in 64 collegiate bouts. Both wrestlers are listed at 149 pounds entering the duals.
Opening Shots – Dual Two
Dual two matches the Huskies up with host (RV) Chadron State. The Huskies are 3-0 all-time against the Eagles with a 36-9 win in the 2018-19 home opener marking their last meeting. Five bonus-point wins, including a pin by current SCSU graduate assistant Jake Barzowski, set the tone in a Huskies romp at Halenbeck Hall.
Sizing Up the Eagles
Chadron State is 2-1 entering the duals with wins over NJCAA programs Northwest and Northeastern alongside a 24-13 road loss to then-No. 1 Nebraska-Kearney. 125-pounder Quade Smith and 133-pounder Quentrevion Campbell are each ranked No. 8 at their classes by the NWCA.
Huskies fans will remember Chadron State playing a key role in four-time All-American James Pleski’s (20’) legacy at SCSU. Pleski took his lone regular season loss of 2017-18 to Chadron 149-pounder Chase Clasen in a tight 2-1 decision, then proceeded to go 25-1 over the course of the season before meeting Clasen again in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Championships. The Huskies’ star put away Clasen 3-1 in SV-1 before going on to take fourth at the NCAA’s.
Opening Shots – Dual Three
The final dual in Chadron for the Huskies pits them against San Francisco State, who enters the duals 2-2 with wins over New Mexico Highlands and (RV) Fort Hays State alongside losses to then-No. 10 Colorado Mesa and (RV) Colorado Mines. SCSU is 1-1 all-time against San Francisco State, last meeting the Gators at the 2017 NWCA National Duals. The Huskies dropped SFSU 37-11 in the dual with pins recorded by Austin Goergen, Brett Velasquez, Mike Rhone and Travis Holt alongside a major decision courtesy of Clayton Jennissen.
Sizing Up the Gators
San Francisco State has struggled with injuries at a few weights in the early stages of 2022-23, forfeiting at 125 their first two duals. 133-pounder Tony Margiotta leads the travel roster with nine wins while heavyweight Emilio Franco-Sandoval is 8-3 with three dual wins. Only three members of the travel roster are seniors as the Gators feature a relatively young team.
Sixth-year San Francisco State head coach Jason Welch is well-known to wrestling fans of the midwest, having enjoyed a three-time All-American career at Northwestern. As a senior in 2013, Welch finished as the National Runner-Up at 157 pounds and won a Big Ten Championship. Gators assistant coach Anthony Mancini is no stranger to the state of Nebraska – he was the Super Region starter at 184 pounds for Nebraska-Kearney in 2019-20 before serving as a volunteer assistant with the Lopers.
“It’s always a different atmosphere of competition at duals versus an open tournament. We’ll see what we have – it takes a team effort in these duals to come out on top. We’ve got three pretty solid teams that we’re dualing. We’re excited, but we have some work to do once we get there.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of our weights compete. We’ve got some guys that we’re moving around a little bit and experimenting with. We certainly have some weights that are up for grabs, in my opinion, so we’re looking for someone to go out there and take the reigns of those classes. We’re looking for people we can depend on the rest of the year.”
“It’s similar to a tournament with the three duals on one day – you’re going to have a match, then sit there for a while before the next one. Our guys certainly need to be engaged in the process and help each other out. It is a team event, and we’re trying to win the team dual. We’re going to have to go out and wrestle each match individually one at a time, and regardless of the outcome get ready for the next one.”
“With the long travel time, we focus on keeping the guys hydrated, keeping them comfortable and making sure they get enough rest. The nice thing about being on the road is the ability to monitor our rest a bit more. It’s a nice opportunity to bring our guys closer together, a lot of times these long road trips help out with that.”
“We have to try and get some momentum, especially starting out at 125. You want to get started off on the right note – regardless of a win or a loss, we want our guys going out those first few matches competing hard and wrestling for seven minutes.”
Unanimous Top Dog
St. Cloud State enters dual season as the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation per the 2022-23 polls, ranked No. 1 by the NWCA and No. 1 in both Dual and Tournament rankings per The Open Mat. A total of eight Huskies are ranked headed into the weekend with six recognized by the NWCA. Abner Romero is unanimously No. 1 at 174, joined in the consensus ranks by No. 2 Joey Bianchini at 141 and No. 10 Anthony Herrera at 165. 157-pounder Colby Njos is No. 2 according to The Open Mat and No. 4 per the NWCA, while 149-pounder Nick Novak slots in at No. 5 and No. 4 respectively. Paxton Creese is the No. 6 125-pounder in the country by the NWCA and No. 9 by The Open Mat with 197-pounder Dominic Murphy appearing at No. 5 and No. 10. Both Caleb Meekins (133) and Elijah Novak (HWT) are found only among The Open Mat’s rankings, sliding in at No. 5 and No. 17 at their respective classes.
Following a strong debut season that saw him become a mainstay in the individual rankings at 174, redshirt junior and Huskies captain Dominic Murphy takes the climb to 197 this fall. Murphy went 23-6 with an 11-3 mark in duals last year, earning fourth at the Super Region. Thus far, Dom has impressed at his new weight – going 9-1 with a decision over then-No. 4 Matt Kaylor of Mary and a lone loss to now-No. 4 Tereus Henry of Fort Hays State.
The Chadron State Duals will serve as a homecoming of sorts for redshirt senior 149-pounder Cameron Riggs – a Nebraska product who hails from North Platte, just over three hours south of Chadron. Riggs was a record-setting 204-0 four-time Nebraska State champion at Maxwell High School before joining the Huskies. He has gone 35-10 with SCSU, earning the Jim and Dave Hazewinkel Tough Man of the Year award last season.
Redshirt freshman Alyeus Craig has responded well in his debut season at 141 pounds, opening his season 8-0 with titles at the Yellowjacket and Dakota Wesleyan Open. Craig is one of four unbeaten attached wrestlers on the Huskies’ roster and has provided three bonus point wins.
One Last Ride, Huskies Style
2021 NCAA DII 174-pound Champion Abner Romero will wrestle his final collegiate season with St. Cloud State, transferring in after three seasons at Lindenwood. Romero enters 2022-23 as the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 174 per the NWCA and has gone 59-2 attached over his career.
Leading the Way
St. Cloud State has named six captains in advance of the 2022-23 season: redshirt seniors Joey Bianchini, Anthony Herrera and Abner Romero; senior Robby Horsman along with redshirt juniors Dominic Murphy and Phillip Kue.
Information regarding single dual and season tickets can be found at scsutickets.com. For all the latest on St. Cloud State Wrestling, stay tuned to SCSUHuskies.com and follow the team on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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