Posted 2 months ago
By John Axtell
Both teams have shown considerable promise this year and are led by former standout wrestlers at the schools where they are now the head coaches.
Both teams were impressive in their final competition prior to the holidays. Chadron State defeated Dickinson State of North Dakota 34-4 and Northern State of South Dakota 28-9 in duals at home, while Morningside defeated three of its four opponent s at the Desert Duals in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Mustangs beat University of Great Falls of Montana 22-18, Embry-Riddle of Arizona 27-12 and Menlo College of California 26-12. Their loss was to defending NAIA national champion Grand View of Iowa 32-9.
Morningside has won three consecutive Great Plains Athletic Conference championships and is 20th in the latest NAIA national rankings. Chadron State was 14th in the Basford NCAA Division II rankings released in mid-December.
The Eagles are coached by Brett Hunter, a native of Rushville who was a two-time state champion for the Longhorns and was an NCAA Division II national champion for Chadron State in 2007 and 2009.
The Morningside coach is Jake Stevenson, a native of Albion who a four-time All-American for the Mustangs and became the school’s first national champion his senior year in 2007.
Both Hunter, who had a 133-32 career record at CSC, and Stevenson, who was 130-25 at Morningside, are in their second year as the head coaches at their alma maters.
One of the interesting matches in Saturday night’s dual is expected to be at 133 pounds. Chadron State’s Dustin Stodola is 12-0 this season and is ranked fourth in the weight class nationally. Morningside will counter with Nathan Ryan, who won all four of his matches during the Desert Duals
Stodola earned the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s Wrestler of the Week honor in November after he had won his first seven matches.
Both teams also feature outstanding heavyweights. The Mustangs’ Tyler Kacmarynski has an 11-4 record and is ranked No. 2 nationally among NAIA wrestlers. Chadron State will counter with Michael Hill, who had a 24-11 record last season and is expected to make a strong bid for a national placing this year.
Hill won five of his first seven matches this fall before being sidelined by an injury in early November. His only action since then saw him pin his Northern State rival in the final match before Christmas.
The Eagles also feature Jordan Debus at 184 pounds. He placed fifth at the national tournament last season. He also was injured early this season, but won both of his matches against Dickinson State and Northern State.