Wrestling Rocks at Nationals

    After spending years just trying to scrape enough resources together to get a team started, wrestling club founder Lonnie Gottschalk had no idea how far his project would go. At the wrestling nationals, held March 9-11 in Dallas he discovered just how far his team had come.

    “”I was happy to just have a club,”” Gottschalk said. “”To go to the nationals is something I would never have thought could happen.””

    Locking arms with such powerhouses as Auburn, Georgia, Texas, Texas State, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Tennessee, the UCSD wrestling team grabbed an amazing 15th place out of a total of about 70 teams, just edging out crosstown rival San Diego State University, which finished in 16th place.

    “”The competition there was definitely really good,”” Gottschalk said. “”But some of our best wrestlers couldn’t make it, or we would have at least made the top 10 or top five.””

    Grand Valley Central, which eventually came out as the No. 1 team, came to the tournament with around 20 wrestlers, many of whom were transferring to Division I, while the UCSD team only brought eight wrestlers.

    “”[Also] most teams are working with budgets of around $20,000,”” said Gottschalk.

    The UCSD team is funded partially by A.S. Council but mostly out of the wrestlers’ own pockets.

    The star of the competition for UCSD was Kyle Kleinschmidt, who went 3-3 in the 174-pound weight class to finish in the top six and earn All-American honors. He is the first All-American wrestler in the history of UCSD.

    “”Kyle has a real good chance [to be a national champion], if not next year, then the year after since he’s only a freshman,”” Gottschalk said.

    Gottschalk himself had the second best performance for UCSD, going 2-2 and making it to the top eight before being eliminated in the quarterfinals.

    Nathan Uchida, competing in the 133-pound division, went to the fifth round of the consolation bracket before being eliminated, while Mike Mitchell (165 pounds) was eliminated in the fourth round and Andy Wang (141 pounds) got to the third round before losing.

    Cory Nagel (184 pounds) got a bad draw and was forced to square off against two All-Americans and lost to both of them, while Eric Smith (149 pounds) went 1-2 and Dave Hall (197 pounds) made it to the championship quarterfinals before being eliminated.

    “”I was real happy [with the team’s performance], although I would have been happier with a few more All-Americans, maybe a national champion or two,”” Gottschalk said. “”Next year will be better — we’ve seen the competition and can prepare better for it,”” he continued. “”I think we can have four or five All-Americans, some national champions and a top-five finish — those are our goals.””

    Most of the wrestlers are returning and have an excellent chance of doing well next year, according to Gottschalk.

    “”Mike Johns (who couldn’t go to nationals) has a real good chance to at least be an All-American, as does everyone else who went,”” Gottschalk said. “”This is [Dave Hall’s] first year wrestling and he made it to the quarterfinals.””

    Next year the team will most likely move from being a club to a team.

    “”It’s looking good for us; our coach, Tony Ontiveros, is talking with the rec club,”” Gottschalk said. “”As long as we can set up some matches for next year, we’re going to make the transition.””

    For Gottschalk, a senior, there is only one regret for the past season.

    “”I would really like to have been an All-American,”” he said. “”I’m probably going to be working at a lab and take a class in the fall and keep wrestling.””

    Whatever happens, he is sure to keep in touch with the friends he has made through wrestling.

    “”The guys have gotten to be real tight,”” Gottschalk said. “”It’s a great feeling. I’m definitely going to keep in touch, stay a part of the team.””

    With everyone returning next year, there’s no doubt that UCSD wrestling is a submission hold away from the national championship.

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