Hopes are high that all three Chadron State College winter sports teams will be significantly improved during the 2010-11 seasons that are just three weeks away.
Both basketball teams began practicing over the weekend while the wrestlers will begin working out today following fall break at CSC. All three teams return a solid core of veterans and have added some newcomers who are expected to give them a major boost.
The wrestling team returns all nine letter winners from last year’s team who had eligibility remaining, including 2010-11 starters Dustin Stodola, Mikah Kadera, Briston Brenton, Jordan Debus and Chris Leak. Each of them won at least a dozen matches and Debus qualified for the national tournament.
The Eagles were ranked ninth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Preseason Poll released Wednesday. Nebraska-Kearney, the defending RMAC champ, claimed the top spot.
Five Lopers were placed on the preseason all-conference team, led by Preseason Wrestler of the Year T.J. Hepburn at 157 pounds.
Scott Ritzen, who is beginning his 25th year as the Eagles’ head coach, believes this year’s recruiting class, made up mostly of freshmen, is one of his best. At least one national publication agrees, ranking it as the ninth best on the NCAA Division II level this season.
“Even though most of them are freshmen, I think we’ve brought in guys who will really help us,” Ritzen said. “They’re good wrestlers and I believe they’re going to provide the depth we need to have a good season.”
The CSC wrestlers had a 4-10 dual record and finished sixth at the RMAC Tournament for the third year in a row.
The Eagles will have public workout on Saturday, Oct. 29 prior to the football game with Fort Lewis College and hold their annual Red and White dual a week later. Their first official competition will be the Cowboy Open at the University of Wyoming on Nov. 12.
—CSC Sports Information