WSU wrestling club to attend nationals in Florida


A WSU club wrestler wrestles during a match at UREC on Sept. 22, 2013.

From staff reports

Looking to defend its NCWA (National Collegiate Wrestling Association) title, the WSU wrestling club will send seven of its top competitors, all from different weight classes, to the championship tournament this Friday in Kissimmee, Florida.

Hosted by the University of Central Florida, the tournament is run in a single elimination format with a bracket of 64 wrestlers for each weight class.

The seven WSU competitors wrestling are Jerdon Helgeson (149 lbs), Robert Mendoza (149 lbs), Zach Volk (157 lbs), Bailey Poitra (165 lbs), Joe Traverso (174 lbs), Jason Nicholson (174 lbs) and Xavier Hendersen (235 lbs).

The Cougs qualified eight wrestlers for Nationals, but freshman Hunter Haney will not be competing for WSU because of a concussion he suffered in his final match in the Northwest Conference Championships. The Northwest Conference championships serve as a qualifier for Nationals for competing athletes in the conference.

Haney will still be traveling with the team to Florida.

“All of the guys that are going down and competing are facing guys in 64-man brackets so there’s a lot of people that you can’t really psych yourself out about,” Haney said. “Like a guy could be ranked or seeded higher than you but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat him so you just got to tell yourself that anything is possible and everyone’s beatable and you just got to work as hard as you can to get there.”

Helgeson, the club President, is the only member among the seven wrestlers having previously competed at Nationals.

“I believe that it’s a hindrance to go online and look up rankings and try to study other people’s positions,” Helgeson said in a press release. “I feel like you start to worry about who you’re going to wrestle and you’re not worrying about what you’re doing yourself.”

Despite graduating several members of last year’s championship-winning team, this year’s bunch is ready to roll. The team began the season with 40 athletes on its roster, but that number gradually shrunk throughout the season as a byproduct of an arduous training schedule. Only the cream of the crop remains affiliated with the club, with the majority of these individuals comprising the qualifiers for Nationals.

“Overall, the season was fun, tough; it was really tough at times,” freshman Riley Caulfield said. “(I)definitely wanted to quit along with a lot of people, but you just kind of stick it out.. A lot of time it’s on the wrestler. A coach can’t make someone become that relentless.”

The tournament will run from March 10-12 at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

Reporting by Casie Moe