Jimmies go to Dakota Weslyan looking to capture GPAC belt
The Jimmies are looking for their first individual national champion since 1986.
After a season in which they went 6-6 as a team, the University of Jamestown wrestling team heads to Dakota Wesleyan University for the GPAC Championships from Friday, Feb. 18, through Saturday, Feb. 19.
The Jimmies are sending 12 wrestlers to Mitchell, South Dakota: Elijah Barajas, Theorius Robison, Antonio Ruiz, Tommy Beringer, Jesse Murillo, Park Beeler, Carston Toedter, Josh Goeden, Trystan Rogers, Austin Morris, Ian Howell and Ramiro Vargas Macias.
Throughout his first season at the helm, Jim Zalesky has seen his team improve and grow throughout moments of turnover.
“I think they’ve gotten better as the year has gone on,” Zalesky said. “They’ve had to adjust, there were some guys who were in the lineup early and then for one reason or another we redshirted them or something came up and they’re not there anymore. Guys stepped up, so it’s been a learning experience for me and it’s been a learning experience for the guys that wrestle under me.”
Robison comes into the tournament with a 12-1 record in the 141-pound weight class. By virtue of ending the season with a five-match winning streak, he is the No. 2-ranked wrestler in his weight class in the GPAC and No. 4 ranked in the NAIA. Robison is on a collision course to match up with the only person to get the better of him this year, No. 1-ranked wrestler Doane’s Baterdene Boldmaa.
“I’m pretty excited,” Robison said. “I’m excited to see how I’ve improved over this season from when I took my loss this season, my only loss this year. Hopefully, I get to see that guy again to see if I’ve closed the gap or if I still have some work to do. So, I’m excited to see where I’m at. I really just gotta go out there and do me.”
The six wrestlers have a combined record of 118-108 coming into the conference tournament. In addition to Robison, Zalesky expects the three seniors, Goeden, Vargas Macias and Beringer to leave the program with wins.
“Probably Theorius Robison at (141), he came in in the second half and has done well and got beat by the national champ from Doane,” Zalesky said. “I’m looking forward to hopefully getting a rematch there and seeing if we’ve progressed. We’ve only had five or six matches the first time we wrestled him. I’m looking forward to that match."
Before his team hits the mats in the DWU/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex, Zalesky’s message to his team is a very simple one.
“I told the guys, 'You gotta wrestle your best,'” Zalesky said. “This is when you want to wrestle your best. We’ve made a lot of mistakes in a lot of matches, this is where you learn from those mistakes and don’t make the same mistakes. At the same time, we’re gonna wrestle a lot of guys we’ve already wrestled but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you lost or won; it’s a whole new match, how you wrestle down there, how you prepare for that tournament is what it is all about. It’s all about effort.”