CRAWFORDSVILLE, IND. – A journey that began the day after a heartbreaking 2017 NCAA Midwest Championships outing reached terrific heights for Chase Wilson Saturday, Feb. 24.
With a near miss top eight at the event as a sophomore and going 2-2 a year ago when Manchester University played host in Fort Wayne, Ind., on his resume, the fire of the senior redheaded 141-pounder has been burning brighter than ever on the mat. He proved so at Wabash College’s Knowling Fieldhouse. The No. 9-ranked individual on D3Wrestle.com’s recent poll used a pin, decision, major decision and decision as part of a 4-0 record.
“Two years ago (when I just missed out on the top eight), (head) Coach (Kevin) Lake said to me ‘Where do you want to go from here?’,” the Central Region Championships’ Most Outstanding Wrestler reflected after topping Baldwin-Wallace’s Charlie Nash 6-2 in the finals. “I said ‘Up.’
I wouldn’t be here without the support of my teammates and the university,” he added. “It’s a tremendous feeling to be a regional champion and national qualifier while representing Manchester University.”
A second successive 30-wins finish, going 31-3 down the stretch, the tournament championships this season … that all faded for Wilson with the realization that he’ll be the first Spartans wrestler to represent MU at nationals since 2012 and a regional champion at that.
“It’s been so much fun (being a part of this team),” he said. “We’ve all put the time in … having good and bad days, but in the end, it’s all been about being together. Coach Lake and Music are awesome to work with – knowing when to take the breaks, when to go hard, etc.”
The good news just started with Wilson’s championship for MU. Sophomore 149-pounder Jordan Napier (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior heavyweight Nick Joyner (Fort Wayne, Ind.) both finished fifth after advancing just a match shy of being in line for a top three weekend. Junior 133-pounder Ben Cauffman (Fort Wayne, Ind.) also battled in day two falling to eventual third-place honoree Dante Ginnetti of a red-hot BW team.
“All of the returners will learn (from this weekend),” Lake noted. “What Chase did, have two more top fives and four guys competing on the final day of regionals … it’ll pay dividends moving forward. You can’t replicate (what the returners) learned here. They’ll be better for it.
It’s great to see Chase (get to this point),” he added. “We’ve got two weeks of work ahead to get ready for nationals. We don’t want to stop here … the goal is to bring some hardware home from Cleveland.”