HAYS, Kan. - The ThunderWolves closed out the calendar year with some very stiff competition Saturday, taking on wrestlers from some of the finest programs in the country of any classification at Fort Hays State University's Bob Smith Open.
In a tournament dominated by wrestlers from Division I schools, such as Big XII entrants Colorado and Nebraska, a total of only eight wrestlers from RMAC schools managed to place, with six of those coming from the defending NCAA Division II champion, Nebraska-Kearney. Host Fort Hays State was the only other Division II program to record multiple placers, sending seven to the medal stand.
Three wrestlers per weight class placed at the Bob Smith Open. The ThunderWolves did not place any wrestlers.
Despite not placing any wrestlers, the Pack had 12 of its 22 wrestlers earn at least one win, and were headline by two standout performances.
Louie DeSantis (Jr., Escondido, Calif.) would have placed at least sixth if the tournament supported six placers, winning eight matches, including three against Division I wrestlers. DeSantis also avenged his first loss to CU's Luke Elmore, scoring a 9-4 decision before losing in the consolation semifinal. DeSantis' 149-pound weight class was the biggest of the tournament, emerging from the pool of 52 149-pounders entered into the division.
Justin Grant (Jr., Winnemucca, Nev.) also would have been assured at least a sixth place finish, wrestling his way into the 174-pound quarterfinals, sent to the consolation bracket by losing to the eventual champion, Nebraska-Kearney's Kamarudeen Usman, before winning two more and advancing to the consolation semifinal.
The next time the ThunderWolves hit the mats will be Jan. 3, 2009 when they take part in the Lone Star Duals in Grand Prairie, Tex., dualling four programs - Newman (Kan.), Texas-Arlington, Oklahoma City and Wisconsin-Stevens Point.