FORT WAYNE – all the way to Des Moines, Iowa – but as far as Indiana Tech wrestling coach Mike Ester is concerned, its just one more stride in the growth of a program that hasnt turned two years old yet.
Ester and eight competitors are part of the Tech contingent that will be in Des Moines for the NAIA national wrestling championships today and Saturday. And as far as he is concerned, Ester sees the trip as the cornerstone for something even greater.
Its a goal of ours, Ester said. We truly talk every day about building the foundation to win a national championship. We feel like next year, with who were bringing in and the return of these guys and having the first senior class, that its a realistic expectation and not just a goal.
Of the eight Warriors, two will be competing as champions from the East Regional qualifying tournament.
Travis Barroquillo, the former Prairie Heights standout, is in the 133-pound class, and James Bennett won the 165-pound regional title.
Last season, Barroquillo (22-9) placed fourth in the national meet. Bennett (26-10) is a junior college transfer.
Other Indiana Tech wrestlers scheduled to compete are Kristopher McKinley (17-24), 125 pounds; Sidney Logan (21-21), 149; Adam Fahs (8-10), 157; Darryl Grayson (18-19), 174; Tanner Martin (27-10), 174; and Logan Rimmer (25-19), 285.
McKinley attended Northrop, and Martin went to Snider.
Because the program is in its early stages, there are no seniors.
We return everybody, Ester said. Weve got 35 guys on the roster, and barring a couple of kids who dont return, everyone returns.
Were excited. Were going to have seniors graduate next year, so thats a neat thing already – to be able to look forward and have our first senior night.
Athletes of note
Sophomore guard Shauna Watson (Concordia) scored 16 points, had 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals in three games to help Hanover to the HCAC tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. Manchester junior Erynn Meiklejohn (Concordia) scored 10 points, had 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots in two games to be named to the All-HCAC tournament team. She was also named to the All-HCAC second team for the regular season Trine senior Ian
Jackson, who led the MIAA with 21 points per game, was named the conferences MVP. Senior Scott Rogers was named to the second team. For the women, senior Sydney Spragg was named first team, and Megan Loveberry was named second team. Williston State (N.D.) freshman Nick Zern (Leo) score the championship-winning goal and was named tournament MVP after leading the Tetons to the NJCAA hockey title in Rochester, N.Y.