Pack sends four to National Championships

Pack sends four to National Championships

CHADRON, Neb. ( - Feb. 23, 2013) - CSU-Pueblo qualified its highest amount of wrestlers to the National Championships since 2001 Saturday as four Pack grapplers stamped their tickets to nationals.

Jesse Hillhouse (Sr., Casper, Wyo.) won the consolation championship at 125 pounds to finish third and qualify for the national tournament for a second straight year.  Also earning his second straight tournament nod was Trevor Grant (Jr., Winnemucca, Nev.), who finished fourth.

Also earning fourth place finishes were 174-pounder Ray Hall (Jr., Garfield, Ark.) and heavyweight Niko Bogojevic (So., Superior, Wisc.).

Hillhouse disposed of two 20-win wrestlers in Nebraska-Kearney's Connor Bolling and San Francisco State's Skylor Davis en route to winning the consolation title.  Hillhouse enters nationals with a 32-5 record, the best record by any ThunderWolf entering nationals since the program was re-introduced in 2008, and will likely be assured a high seed after spending most of the season as the top-ranked 125-pounder in the nation.

Grant rebounded from a semifinal loss to win three straight on his way to nationals, only coming up short in the consolation finals.  His biggest win came against Fort Hays State's Sam Thoman, sticking Thomas with just three seconds left in regulation to take the win. 

Hall made his way to nationals in dramatic fashion, outlasting Adams State's Jarrod Purvis on riding time in overtime to advance to the consolation semifinals and clinch his spot in the National Championships.  Hall, a first-year member of the Pack, will be making his first trip to the NCAA Division II National Championships.

In the heavyweight class, Bogojevic claimed his spot by scoring an overtime takedown against Western State's Kyle Graulus in the consolation semifinals.  He had made his way to the semifinal match only to lose and have to pull off the do-or-die win in the consolation semifinal match.

As a team, the Pack turned in its finest performance in a regional tournament since the program returned in 2008.  CSU-Pueblo finished in 6th place out of 12 teams, its highest finish since winning the regional championship in 2001. 

The NCAA Division II National Championships begin Mar. 8 and will take place in Birmingham, Ala.  CSU-Pueblo will seek its first individual national champion since 1999.