HOUSTON – The storybook of Brett Hunter’s wrestling career just added another chapter, not to mention the perfect ending.
Hunter, who is the school’s all-time winningest wrestler with a 133-32 record, won his second national championship by claiming a 3-2 decision over Nebraska-Kearney’s Marty Usman during the 174-pound finals of the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships.
“It feels amazing to be on top of that podium again,” Hunter, a senior from Rushville said. “This championship by far means so much more to me than the one two years ago because Usman beat me all year. And after not placing last year, I’m sure I had doubters. I knew if I got to the national championship, I’d wrestle my best and it was my time.
“To say I ended my career at Chadron State with two titles is very special. There have been a lot of great wrestlers to come through this program and to be mentioned with them is an honor. Nineteen years of wrestling has paid off.”
The victory was especially sweet since Usman had defeated Hunter three times this season leading up to Saturday’s match.
In the finals, Hunter and Usman wrestled to a 0-0 tie after the first period, but Hunter got on the board with a takedown with 36 seconds remaining in the second period to take a 2-0 lead. Usman escaped seconds later and the period ended with Hunter leading, 2-1.
In the third period, Usman chose bottom and Hunter gained over a minute of riding time before cutting Usman lose with 30 seconds to go.
With less than six seconds to wrestle, Usman tried to takedown Hunter, but the shot fell short and Hunter claimed the 3-2 victory, thanks to the point for riding time.
Hunter said a big key to the match was when he chose neutral at the beginning of the second period.
“Usman has turned me every time this year he’s been on top, so I went neutral and stayed low,” he said. “I attacked and it worked because my gameplan was to get a lead on him and I was able to do that once I got a takedown out of neutral. From there I just got momentum and stayed in good position.
“Late in the third period, I saw there was 52 seconds of riding time and so I knew I had to do whatever it took to ride him out for eight more seconds. I cut him after I got over a minute and I was able to hold on for the win.”
Earlier in the day, Hunter defeated Upper Iowa's Mitch Norton in the semifinals 5-3 to secure his spot in the finals.
Chadron State’s Josh Majerus also earned All-American honors during Saturday’s championship by finishing in fourth place. For Majerus it was the third straight year he earned All-American status.
Majerus, a national champion in 2008, won two matches on Saturday before falling to Nebraska-Kearney’s Matt Ferrell in the third place match. He earned a 4-1 decision over Augustana’s Tyler Copsey and a 15-0 technical fall over New Mexico Highlands’ Luke McPeek. However, Farrell won the third place match by pinning Majerus in 4:50.
Majerus is just the third CSC wrestler to garner All-American honors three times and he’s the first to accomplish that feat while competing at the Division II level. Majerus ends his career with the second most wins in school history, posting a record of 117-43.
The University of Nebraska-Omaha walked away with the team title, scoring an impressive 146.5 points. The national championship is the fifth for the Mavericks.
Newberry finished second with 80.5 points.
Chadron State finished in 11th place, scoring 36 points.
CSC Results at the National Championship
125 – Tim Elliott, Central Oklahoma, dec. Devlon Webb, CSC, 5-4. Corbin Surat, Northern State, dec. Webb, 9-3.
141 – Jimmy Savala, CSC, major dec. Jay Sherer, Augustana, 11-3. Mario Morgan, Nebraska-Omaha, dec. Savala, 6-3. Cory Bloodgood, Central Missouri, dec. Savala, 5-4.
174 – Brett Hunter, CSC, dec. Justin Ferguson, Ashland, 5-0. Hunter, major dec. Christopher Barrick, Shippensburg, 13-3. Hunter, dec. Mitch Norton, Upper Iowa, 5-3. Hunter dec. Marty Usman, Nebraska-Kearney, 3-2 (for national championship).
197 – Josh Majerus, CSC, dec. Matt Nelson, Minnesota State-Moorhead, 11-6. Josh Ohl, Ashland, dec. Majerus, 9-7. Majerus, major dec. Pat Mahan, Minnesota State-Mankato, 8-0. Majerus, dec. Tyler Copsey, Augustana, 4-1. Majerus technical fall, Luke McPeek, New Mexico Highlands, 15-0. Matt Farrell, Nebraska-Kearney, pinned Majerus, 4:50 (for third place).