photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiphoto.com
Adams State University
Head coach Jason Ramstetter 19th season
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We can be honest when we talk about a team that will have four returning national qualifiers on its roster, they are going to be tough. Head coach Jason Ramstetter enters his 19th season as the leader of the Adams State Grizzlies and after a very good 2018-19 campaign expectations are deservedly high. They will return an All-American in Khalil Gipson and two-time national qualifier Dylan Udero. Coach Ramstetter has crowned seven national champions while putting another 40 athletes on the podium as All-Americans. A former Division I All-American for Cal State Bakersfield, he has built himself a successful program in Alamosa, Colorado. Troy Nickerson is showing that you can create a strong Division I program using Colorado’s in-state talent and he is really just following the model of teams like Adams State. If you are looking for an affordable state university located in a valley surrounded by some of the most beautiful wilderness you can imagine, look no further.
The strength of the Grizzlies will be in the first half of the lineup, as they will return Jonathon Andreatta, the aforementioned Udero, and fellow national qualifier Noah Hermosillo. There’ss some mystery to this lineup, with a logjam at 125 and 141 and a returning qualifier may find themselves on the outside looking in this season. Even with the potential weight shuffling that could happen, Adams State has an All-American at 197 where Gipson returns after finishing eighth last season. The lineup will also get a boost with the return of 2017-18 All-American Natrelle Demison. The senior will return as an immediate All-American threat at what is already a ridiculously loaded weight class nationally. I expect talented redshirt sophomore Isaiah De La Cerda to find a place in this lineup as well as this season. I am also anticipating big things from sophomore heavyweight James Romero, as he could help anchor the lineup with Gipson and make this team an even better dual squad. This is a team that took five wrestlers to the national tournament last season and anything less than that would be disappointing to me this go around. There is a chance for them to be a breakout squad this year as they return a great mix of seasoned veterans and young stars.
125: Isaiah De La Cerda (R-So) Alamosa, CO
#9 Jonathan Andreatta (R-So)
Adams State is going to start their lineup off with a redshirt sophomore from Colorado. They will then follow him up with another redshirt sophomore from Colorado. Who starts where is up in the air right now for the Grizzlies. I am going to make my best guess and say that we will see Isaiah De La Cerda at this weight while returning national qualifier Jonathan Andreatta will move up to man the 133 spot. De La Cerda was the starter for Adams State at the Midwest Classic a year ago and scored a 9-7 overtime victory over returning national finalist Maleek Williams before finishing the tournament 2-2. He ended his season 15-5 and went 2-0 in dual action. His 11 bonus point victories included seven falls, a disqualification, and a forfeit. He does well finding the extra points and he has shown he is a threat to qualify for nationals this season. The hometown product immediately slides into the second or third spot in Super Regional VI rankings.
133: #9 @133 Jonathan Andreatta (R-So) Walsenburg, CO
Isaiah De La Cerda (R-So)
I am not saying that it is a done deal or even that it makes the most sense, but if you want both of the talented lightweights to step on the mat this season, coach Ramstetter has a decision to make. 133 is the tougher weight in the Super Regional VI and Jonathan Andreatta would have a tougher route to finding a qualifying spot here, but he is more than talented enough. It would be a boon to this lineup to have two qualifiers to start them off, it would put them right there with Nebraska-Kearney in the trophy hunt. At one point late last season, Andreatta ran off 10 straight wins heading into the postseason. In early season tournaments, Andreatta notched four wins against Division I competition, he also finished the Reno Tournament of Champions with a 3-2 record. Jonathan is still looking for a signature win on his resume like the De La Cerda win over Williams. He had a very close match with All-American Cole Laya (West Liberty) in Cleveland, losing a 2-1 match that was decided by riding time. Nationally, the 133 class is almost certainly tougher this season, but the redshirt sophomore will be up to the task.
141: #7 Dylan Udero (Sr) Las Cruces, NM
Noah Hermosillo (R-So) Gypsum, CO
It is crazy to think that a two-time national qualifier and senior athlete Dylan Udero could be bumped from the lineup. It may happen though if Noah Hermosillo can make and hold the weight cut from 149 to 141. With the return of senior Natrelle Demison at 149, it would make sense for him to possibly sit this season and take his redshirt. That would allow Hermosillo to be the starter this year and then next season they could return to the lineup together back at 141 and 149. It took Udero a little bit to get rolling last season, but after a 4-3 finish at the Midwest Classic, he ran off six straight wins. In five of them tallying bonus points for the Grizzlies. The three-time Colorado prep state champion did not have an eye-popping victory last season, but two years ago he upset Brandon Ball (Fort Hays State) in the regional to become a national qualifier. Inserting Noah Hermosillo into the 141 spot makes a lot of sense for the Grizzlies this year. Hermosillo was a national qualifier at 149 for Adams State last season taking advantage of a great Super Regional draw to punch his ticket. Overall, his season was inconsistent at a very tough weight class, but how he finished his season could be the difference-maker for him this year. Confidence could be key and if Hermosillo holds the weight, it could solve at least one of coach Ramstetter’s lineup conundrums. If he struggles though, the pressure could build to go with Udero at this weight and that would put Hermosillo on the bench.
149: Natrelle Demison (Sr) Bakersfield, CA
Josiah Rider (R-Fr) Grand Junction, CO
If you thought that coach Ramstetter had a tough decision at 141, take a look at the problem at 149. Three-time Colorado state champion Josiah Rider returns to the Centennial State after a year at North Carolina State. He comes to a lineup that will be returning 2017-18 All-American Natrelle Demison at the weight after his redshirt season. One of these athletes will probably move up, but I’m not certain who. Demison is a California product whose brother is on the other ASU roster (Arizona State). It makes the most sense for one of them to go up to 157 to get both talented wrestlers into the lineup. If they decide to battle, it could be a toss-up and it will be up to the Grizzlies coach to determine how to weigh the results. Natrelle entered the Western Colorado Open at 157 last season, so maybe this will all sort itself out. He is the tested veteran and I think that he deserves to be given the choice of where he wants to wrestle, Rider is talented enough to wrestle at either spot.
157: Ryan Rochford (R-So) Rio Rancho, NM
Gavin Davy (R-Jr) Albuquerque, NM
I think that this spot will probably belong to whoever does not start at 149, but if that is not what happens, Adams State has two talented New Mexico natives ready to hold the spot. Ryan Rochford won 23 matches a year ago as a redshirt freshman, but could not breakthrough at the Super Regional tournament. His best win on the season was at the Midwest Classic over All-American Kevin Almond (Emmanuel). More than half of his victories against Division II opponents were against wrestlers with sub .500 records. He did win two Open titles, one early on at the UNK Open and then in January where he finished 3-0 at the Western Colorado Open. There are two losses on his record that make it tough for me to trust him, but I am sure he will benefit from a new training partner like Rider. If he stumbles, Gavin Davy could jump right in. The redshirt junior finished his season 11-6, with his best stretch of wrestling taking place at the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Open, where he won four of his five matches. He ended his season with two wins over Division I athletes and if he can carry that momentum into 2019, he could take a big step forward.
165: Isaac Lopez (Sr) Alburquerque, NM
Gone is All-American Koery Windham and in his place is an opportunity for a new Grizzly to be the man at 165. The multiple-time national qualifier did his best work over his last two seasons and was a rock in Adams State lineup. Last season Isaac Lopez was the Grizzlies starting 174 from mid-January on and he turned in a solid if not exactly noteworthy season. His 8-7 mark includes a stretch of five straight dual wins that padded his overall record. A move down in weight could be just what the doctor ordered. Lopez spent his 2017-18 season wrestling all over the lineup for coach Ramstetter and last year never seemed to have really grown into the 174 class. A cut to 165 could allow him to keep his strength and speed while not giving up size to the athletes dropping to 174. This is going to be a very deep weight class in Super Regional VI, so any points he would score at the tournament would be a boon, but I just do not see him breaking through to the national championship this year. I think he does win more matches this season than he has in his past years and is more than capable during the dual season. He will be tested at the Midwest Classic though and how he finishes there will be a predictor for his season as a whole.
174: Zach Deaguero (R-Jr) Commerce City, CO
Cody Lewis (R-Fr) Mesa, AZ
Cody Lewis is an Arizona state champion coming off a redshirt season where he won just two matches. There is obviously a learning curve for freshman athletes and Lewis followed right along with it. He is talented and driven, but he also lost five of his six matches by bonus points. If he is going to be the starter for Adams State that simply cannot happen. Zach Deaguero won their head-to-head meeting at the UNK Open 6-4, but with Isaac Lopez as the starter at this weight saw minimal action. There may be depth in the wrestling room at this weight, but no one else looks to be a challenger at this weight. I do not think we have seen Lewis’ best wrestling and he provides quite a bit of upside for this team. He has to clean up mat wrestling, but that always seems to be the case with freshmen. Deaguero is a veteran who knows what it will take to compete, but I am not sure his upside is as high as the redshirt freshman. This is a weight where this regional is pretty wide open after returning national qualifier Robert Gambrell (CSU Mines) and that means coach Ramstetter has a chance to send a wrestler through to the national tournament. You had better believe that he will put his best chance at that out on the mat.
184: William Tyler (R-So) La Junta, CO
William Tyler ended his redshirt freshman campaign in disastrous fashion finishing 1-5. Before that cold streak, Tyler was 14-4 and looked like a possible national qualifier. This is a tough weight class in Super Regional VI, but at the end of the year, Tyler took losses to two different wrestlers with losing records. He even notched an overtime victory against All-American Justin Pichedwatana (San Francisco State). If he can rekindle the fire early on, I think he can take another step forward, however, if he allows his late-season trouble to haunt him, the Grizzlies may need to find a new starter. I am not certain who that would be though, gone is 2017-18 national qualifier Richard Bencomo so this weight looks to be in Tyler’s hands regardless of performance. Maybe the lack of pressure will help him to stay consistent throughout the season.
197: #4 Khalil Gipson (R-Jr) Amarillo, TX
The 197 weight class in Super Regional VI may be one of the toughest weights at any regional this season. All three national qualifiers return and when you add to that mix Colorado State-Pueblo senior Haszell West, there is a battle brewing. Khalil Gipson finished eighth last season in Cleveland to earn All-American honors as a redshirt sophomore. Gipson caught fire at the right time, he qualified for nationals with a losing record and then became an All-American while still having a losing record. His upset victory over West was the catalyst to his hot streak, he even managed a revenge win over Wade French (Chadron State) at the national tournament. Only time will tell if Gipson can keep this going in this tough regional, but he has shown he is more than talented enough to compete with the best at this weight.
Hwt: James Romero (Sr) Albuquerque, NM
James Romero notched his most significant win of the season against Simon Fraser when he closed out the dual with a pin of All-American Ciaran Ball. He also finished his season at the regional tournament by avenging a loss to Sam DeSeriere (Western State). Romero can score big points quickly, he had a 30-second fall against New Mexico Highlands, but he also needs to clean up his own wrestling. He gave up bonus in three of his five losses last season. I expect him to see much more mat time in 2019 for Adams State, since in his two seasons at Missouri he averaged 25 matches a year. The two-time New Mexico state champion has returned closer to home and if he can show the talent that he flashed as a starter for the Tigers as a freshman, he could be a surprise qualifier at this weight. The graduation of Ball opens up a top-three spot at this weight in Super Regional VI and there is no reason that it couldn’t belong to Romero.