You can find final results for the Battle of the Rockies here.
Courtesy: University of Great Falls Sports Information
Almost half of the brackets at the 2016 Battle of Rockies Open ended up with an Argo wrestler at the top. UGF claimed four first place finishes, doubling its total from 2015. The winners for UGF were redshirt-freshman Isaac Wilson at 125, freshman Shonn Roberts wrestling unattached at 141, redshirt-junior Khaldoon Rashid at 176, and redshirt-freshman Randy Keesler at 174.
Those were the first four tournament wins of the season for UGF, giving the team needed tournament credentials, having already proved itself in duals so far this year. The key for the Argos was a handful of pick upset wins, something they haven’t done much this season.
“We talked about it last night that we needed a couple of big wins and we did that today. We had way more placements than I thought we would at a tournament like that,” UGF Head Coach Caleb Schaeffer said. “We keep improving every week.”
Perhaps the biggest win of the day came from Roberts. Wrestling unattached, the UGF freshman pinned his first two opponents to earn a matchup with MSU-Northern’s (1) Matt Weber in the 141 semifinals.
The UGF freshman dominated the NAIA’s top wrestler, getting two early takedowns in the first period and came away with a 10-4 decision win. That proved to be the big hurdle and Roberts would go on to win the weight class with his third win by Fall of the tournament in the championship match.
“The sky is the limit for him. He can score in bunches and that’s what makes him so dangerous,” Schaeffer said. “He can score a bunch of points and anyone that can score 15-20 points in a match is going to win a lot of matches.”
At 165, redshirt-junior (7) Khaldoon Rashid has already won a lot of matches, but he defended his home turf and won the Battle of the Rockies for the first time in his career. The 165 bracket went pretty much as expected with Rashid pinning his first two opponents and wining his semifinal match with a 7-4 decision. That set him up against (10) Andrew Bartel of MSU-Northern in the finals and just as he did in UGF’s dual against MSUN earlier in the season, he took care of business, winning a 6-2 decision.
“It was huge for him to get that win. Khaldoon is the rock that hold this whole team together,” Schaeffer said. “Yeah, our freshmen are doing amazingly well, but if we didn’t have Khaldoon, I don’t think we’d be where we are today.”
Both Keesler and Wilson were in two of the easier brackets of the tournament, but both still did well to take care of business.
Wilson’s tournament started off with a close 5-4 decision win over an NCAA Div. II opponent from Minot State (N.D.). He then won by disqualification against (T16) Mason Neifeh of Oklahoma City, and beat Alexander Lee by a 10-2 Major Decision to move to the finals of the 125 bracket. Wilson saved his best for last, winning by Fall in the finals.
“He hasn’t been able to put a whole tournament together this whole year, or really even five or six matches together, so when he strung that together it was really impressive for him,” Schaeffer said. “We’re starting to finally see so consistency.”
Randy Keesler has been consistently excellent all season. He as the only Argo to go 3-0 in the previous day’s Battle of the Rockies Duals, and he continued that in the open. While the redshirt-freshman didn’t win any of his matches by more than a minor decision, his power and aggressive style consistently led to takedowns and wins.
His first three matches came against NCAA DII opponents and handled them all well, beating Simon Fraser’s Logan Nelson 4-1, McKendree’s Brendan Murphy 6-4, and Minot State’s Carlos Toledano 6-4. In the semifinals and final, Keesler’s opponents went back to being from the NAIA, but the results didn’t change much. He won by a 10-6 decision in the semis and then beat Colton Gonzalez of Lindsey Wilson by a 10-4 decision to give UGF its fourth win of the tournament.
“Randy just keeps winning. He isn’t a guy that we talk about a ton, because he’s in the middle of the lineup, but he’s been huge,” Schaeffer said.
UGF’s champions were four of five Argo’s to make a championship match. The fifth was redshirt-freshman Casey Dobson, who had two pins and a 5-4 decision win on his way to the finals. In the championship match he faced (9) Daniel Leonard of Lindsey Wilson. Leonard beat Dobson by a 14-5 major decision in the previous day’s duals, but Dobson clearly learned from that match, battling to a 9-8 decision loss.
One of the first big wins of the day for UGF came from redshirt-freshman Jarren Komac, who beat (T8) Matthew Nguyen of Eastern Oregon 10-8 in Overtime, after losing to Nguyen in overtime in dual earlier in the season. Nguyen got his revenge in the consolation semifinals, however, winning a 17-6 major decision. Komac would finish in fifth.
UGF is done with competitions until the turn of the new year. The team’s next action will be a dual against (5) Menlo College on January 6, followed by the Menlo Open on January 7.