Four ThunderWolves looking to stamp ticket to nationals

Four ThunderWolves looking to stamp ticket to nationals

CHADRON, Neb. ( - Feb. 22, 2013) - After one day of competition at the NCAA Division II Super Regionals, four ThunderWolves are still alive to qualify for nationals.

Four ThunderWolves are alive in the consolation semifinals, meaning all four must win their next matches, which begin Saturday at noon, to get a chance to qualify for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.  The top four finishers at each weight earn a trip to nationals.

One ThunderWolf, top-ranked 125-pounder, Jesse Hillhouse (Sr., Casper, Wyo.), nearly made his way to the regional title match, but Hillhouse drew defending national champion Kyle McCrite from Grand Canyon in the semifinal match.  Hillhouse, who defeated McCrite two weeks ago in a dual in Pueblo, lost by a 4-2 decision, sending him to the consolation brackets and taking away his easy path to nationals.  His opponent will be a solid one in Nebraska-Kearney's Connor Bolling, who holds a 24-9 record.

Three others, 165-pounder Trevor Grant (Jr., Winnemucca, Nev.), 174-pounder Ray Hall (Jr., Garfield, Ark.) and heavyweight Niko Bogojevic (So., Superior, Wisc.), took the long road to the consolation semis. 

Grant lost to eventual finalist Isaiah Jiminez from San Francisco State in the quarterfinals, and rallied to win his next two matches to gain a spot in the consolation semis.  He will wrestle Fort Hays State's Sam Thoman, who entered the tournament with a 27-13 record.

Hall, too, lost in the quarterfinals and came back to win two matches on his way to the consolation semifinals.  He claimed an overtime win over Grand Canyon's Martin Fabbian and outlasted New Mexico Highlands' Easton Hargrave, who entered the tournament with a 23-12 mark.  He will face Adams State's Jarrod Purvis (19-8) Saturday.

Bogojevic advanced all the way to the semifinals before falling to Grand Canyon's Tyrell Fortune, who defeated him earlier this season.  He will face Western State's Kyle Graulus Saturday.

As a team, CSU-Pueblo is currently 8th out of 12 teams.  If it could convert all four of its remaining wrestlers to national qualifiers, it will mark the most qualifiers in one year since the program resumed in 2008.  Last season, the ThunderWolves qualified two for nationals.