Colorado State University-Pueblo Wrestling head coach Dax Charles has high expectations for the 2017-18 season.
“Our goals are to win the RMAC, win the region and the National Championship,” Charles said.
The Pack has serious RMAC Championship contenders in all 10 weight classes this season and have received historic national attention following a NCAA Division II coaches poll.
“We are currently ranked second in the RMAC and seventh in the country,” Charles said. “We have one kid returning as RMAC Champion, so I think we could get some more.”
Last year’s only RMAC Champion was 165 pound JaCobi Jones, who took eighth place in the 2017 Division II National Championships and is entering his senior season.
Two other returning Pack wrestlers were national qualifiers along with Jones for the 2016-17 season: 157 pound Kyle Fantin and 184 pound All-American JaVaughan Perkins.
This preseason, Jones, 133 pound reigning Super Region Four Champion PT Garcia and 141 pound senior Jared Mestas were also named to the 2017 All-RMAC team. Both Garcia and Mestas are looking to top last season’s third place RMAC finishes in their respective weight classes.
Transferring from Iowa Community College is 174 pound junior Preston Lauterbach. As a sophomore, Lauterbach won the Junior College National Championship and currently ranks 11th in Division II.
Wrestling in the 125 pound weight class is Josiah Seaton, who is coming of a great offseason and is expected to have a breakout season this year according to Charles.
Three other Pack wrestlers, sophomores Gavin Melendez and Jair Flores and freshman Justin Davis are competing for a starting role at the 149 pound weight class.
At the 197 and heavyweight classes, the Thunderwolves have junior Steven Ullman and senior Cody Johnson. Ullman recorded 25 takedowns as a redshirt freshman and Johnson finished second in the National Junior College Championships as a sophomore.
The Pack may have exceptional talent across the board, but avoiding injury is something that Charles says is the biggest challenge.
Last year the Pack’s biggest loss to injury was Clay Archer, then a returning Junior College All-American. Fortunately, Archer is expected to return in the spring and wrestle his senior season in either the 141 or 149 pound weight class.