WSC wrestling sends seven to nationals


Nathan Pearson, Staff Writer

The Wayne State College Wrestling Club earned a third-place finish at the Great Plains Conference national qualifier this past weekend, in Fort Collins, Col., and will send seven athletes to nationals.

WSC racked up 64.5 points, just seven away from first place. The Wildcats were led by senior co-captain Devon Rupp, who was the 149-pound tournament champion. Rupp is now a four-time national qualifier.

“Devon has been trying really hard to finish his senior season on top,” Coach Greg Vander Weil said.

The top three finishers in each weight division, along with five wildcards, advance to nationals, which will be held in Allen, Texas, March 9 through 11.

Other Wildcats to advance to nationals were second-place finishers sophomore Nic Gonzalez (133-pound), freshman Ethan Fitzler (141-pound), freshman Hunter Weiss (149-pound) and sophomore Caleb Thomas (165-pound).

In third place was sophomore Matthew Reeves (141-pound) and junior co-captain Spencer Trout (184-pound).

Gonzalez and Thomas are now two-time national qualifiers and Trout is now a three-time national qualifier.

“We didn’t need wildcards,” Vander Weil said. “We easily sent most of our guys in the top three.”

WSC, the defending conference champs, found themselves in a close battle for first place, but received some tough breaks and ended up in third.

“We would’ve liked to repeat, but third place is still good,” Vander Weil said. “Some things just didn’t go our way, and we had a little bit of bad luck.”

Bad luck didn’t seem to stop the Wildcats when 157-pound junior Patrick Donnelly continued to wrestle with a dislocated shoulder in the first round. Donnelly went on to win by pin fall. In the semi-final, Donnelly was up 12-8 before his shoulder completely gave out.

“Patrick wrestled his heart out,” Vander Weil said. “I would give him the toughest wrestler award.”

Iowa State won the tournament with 71.5 points followed by Air Force Prep (70), Wayne State (64.5), Colorado State (27), Minnesota-Duluth (21), Winona State (16), Northern Colorado (10) and Missouri S&T (2).

“We’re pretty proud that out of 3,500 kids we can put out a pretty good wrestling program,” Vander Weil said.