Freshman Jonathan Melton placed fourth at the Central Region Championships in the 149 pound weight class, one match away from qualifying for the national tournament. Melton was the only Simpson College wrestler to place.
While only one placed, and none made nationals, the Simpson wrestlers improved from last year by winning six more matches than the year before.
The wrestlers weighed in at 7 a.m. Saturday morning and wrestling started at 9. Devan Berrian(141) started the Storm off strong with a pin in 2:04, Jake Mize(157) lost his first, Bryce Wignall(165) won 8-0, Spencer Ward(184) pinned a wrestler from Knox College, Eric Quador(197) lost 18-5 to a ranked wrestler from Coe, Colby Vlieger(285) was pinned in his first match. Brett Roberts(174) and Jonathan Melton(149) both had first round byes.
In the second round, Berrian was pinned, Melton won 4-3, Mize had a bye, Wignall lost to the top ranked wrestler in the nation, Roberts lost by decision and Ward lost.
After that Mize, Berrian, Vlieger, Ward and Quador were all eliminated from the tournament. Melton suffered his first loss and Wignall and Roberts moved on with wins on the backside of the bracket.
Wignall and Roberts then suffered their second losses, and Melton won his match to get to the third place match. He then lost the match 6-9, leaving him 4 points short of making it to the National Tournament. Melton said, “The kid I wrestled in the quarterfinals, I wasn’t supposed to beat. So winning that match meant a lot. It was a big achievement for me to get to the semis.” The wrestler Melton beat in the quarterfinals was one of Melton’s high school teammates he had grown up wrestling with.
While the highlight of Melton’s freshman season was placing at the Central Region Tournament, Coach Nate Hansen didn’t see the season end on the bright note he wanted.
“We wrestled hard and showed a lot of improvement. We came to compete and some things didn’t go our way.” There are some small preparation changes he plans to make for next year, but not many. The wrestlers’ motto is “On the Rise”, and that is how Hansen sees the team progressing. He said he wants to continue improving and ideally win 30 matches at the regional tournament next year. Next year, he wants a few champions.