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CSC winter sports teams preparing to compete

CSC winter sports teams preparing to compete
(Emma Jurewicz/CSC Sports Information)

CHADRON, Neb. — November 4, 2020 — All three of Chadron State College’s winter sports teams have been practicing since mid-October and hope to get their seasons underway as scheduled in the next few weeks.

The two basketball teams are slated to tip off their seasons at home on Sunday and Monday, Nov. 22 and 23 by hosting Colorado School of Mines and Regis. Both CSC basketball teams also have games scheduled for Dec. 4 and 5 at Fort Lewis and Colorado Western, will be in the Chicoine Center to meet Westminster and Colorado Mesa on Dec. 11 and 12, then wrap up the pre-Christmas action at Colorado-Colorado Springs on Dec. 18.

Neither basketball team will play any non-conference foes.

The Eagles’ wrestlers also will open at home by dualing Colorado Western on Friday, Dec. 4. Their only other match before the holidays will be Dec. 11 at Nebraska-Kearney.

Everyone involved is hoping that the contests happen. They know that because of COVID-19 the schedules could be scuttled. Just one virus incident could cause cancellations.

There has been talk that at least the men’s basketball team may wear masks when they play, but no one seems to know for sure.. Coach Brett Hunter said that’s not anticipated in wrestling, but added that the mats must be thoroughly cleaned after each match. For that reason, Hunter said at least two mats and will be on the gym floors for each dual.

Hunter also said there will be nothing but duals this season since the NCAA is prohibiting tournaments. The coach is hoping, though, that when teams dual there will be more than just the 10 varsity matches so additional wrestlers also can compete.

“Otherwise, some of our guys, often the younger ones, might go all season without doing anything but practice,” Hunter explained. “That’s why open tournaments are so important to our programs.”

No matter how many games or matches the athletes are involved in during the 2020-21 season, they will not expend any eligibility

Here are glimpses of each of the winter sports teams:

Men’s Basketball

The Eagles have a new coach and numerous new players. Shane Paben, highly successful coach for 11 years at Bellevue University at the opposite end of Nebraska, was hired in June to take over the program.

Paben said the first two weeks of practice were a learning experience for both the coaches and players.

“We’re trying to figure things out,” Paben stated. “Lots of learning and evaluation took place. We’re trying to establish a culture and hope that (a winning) tradition follows.”

The coach added that defense is definitely being stressed.

“We have to play outstanding defense, rebound and take care of the ball,” Paben said. “I think we’ve got some guys who can shoot pretty well.”

Six players, three of them at least part-time starters and the remaining three freshmen last year, are back from the team that won just four games.

The veterans are senior Brady Delimont of Ainsworth and juniors Jacob Jefferson of Buckeye, Ariz., and Kayden Sund of Golden, Colo.

The 6-4 Delimont is the all-time leader in 3-pointers in the Nebraska high school ranks and made 37 of them for the Eagles last year. Jefferson, 6-7, averaged 10.5 points and 4.3 rebounds, both second high on the team. Sund, 6-6, earned more playing time as the season moved along while seeking to become more consistent.

Andre Sepeda, a 5-8 graduate of West High at Greeley, Colo., used his tenacity and quickness to provide a spark off the bench several times last winter.

Paben has added nine players–seven transfers and two freshmen. He stocked up on guards and landed several with good size and statistics.

One of his first signees was Teddy Parham, Jr., a 6-3 junior from California’s Santa Monica College, where he started 60 games the past two years and averaged nearly 10 points and around four rebounds each season. Last year he was the Corsairs’ leader in points, 3-pointers, assists, steals and minutes played.

Santa Monica coach Joshua Thomas called Parham one of the two best community college point guards in California.

Two of the new guards are seniors. C.J. Jennings, a 6-foot Colorado Springs native, was the leading scorer at Saint Martin’s University at Lacey, Wash., last season with a 15.7 average while shooting 40 percent from the field overall, including 35 percent (79-225) from 3-point range. The other is 6-4 Psalm Maduakor of Carson, Calif., who averaged 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds at Montana State-Billings.

Also seeking playing time in the back court are two juniors from Texas. They are 6-2 KJ Harris, who played at Coker College in South Carolina last year, and 6-foot Marcus Jefferson, who averaged seven points while playing in all 29 games at Lawson State in Alabama.

Up front, another Texan, 6-7 Deion Rhea, is expected to give the Eagles a big boost after averaging 9.6 points and 7.2 rebounds at New Mexico Junior College. Paben said he believes Rhea and Jacob Jefferson will give the Eagles a good tandem near the basket.

The incoming freshmen on the roster are a long ways from home. They are 6-6 Lovre Badzim from Croatia and 6-3 Arnar Lindal from Iceland.

Women’s Basketball

Coach Janet Raymer believes her team, built around veterans Taryn Foxen and Jori Peters, the team leaders in nearly every category last season when the Eagles won seven games, will be improved after adding a pair of transfers and three freshmen.

Foxen is the team’s only senior, and she ranks with the best offensive players in the RMAC. Last season, she shot a team-high 43.3 percent from the field, including 36 percent (54-150) on 3-pointers, came up with 52 steals and averaged 16.3 points while eclipsing the 1,000-point mark in her career.

Now a junior, Peters gives the Eagles a capable and determined point guard. She shot 38.6 percent from the field, was 46 of 51 at the free throw line, handed out 132 assists, grabbed five rebounds a game and averaged 8.9 points last season.

Five additional letterwinners are on the roster. They include junior guards Bailey Brooks and Brittni McCully and three inside players.

Much is expected from 6-1 Jordan Morris, who averaged 6.2 points and 6.1 rebounds as a true freshman last season. She’ll be backed by 5-10 junior Rachel Henkle and 6-1 sophomore Tatum Peterson, who missed last season because of a knee injury, but has recovered.

The transfers are expected to contribute immediately. They are 5-7 guard Mardaeja Cross of Rockford, Ill., who averaged 9.6 points and 6.3 rebounds at Iowa Central Community College at Fort Dodge last winter, and Hazel Fui, a 5-10 native of Australia who shot 44.7 percent from the field and led the team in assists while helping Salt Lake City Community College win 20 of its final 23 games.

Two standouts from Colorado are among the freshmen. One is Ashayla Powers, a 5-10 forward who averaged 16 points and 9.6 rebounds as a junior and 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds as a senior at Skyline High in Longmont. The other is Olivia Waufle, a 5-8 guard from Horizon High in Thornton, where she was the team’s top scorer (13.3 points) and rebounder (6.7) last season. Both were two-time all-conference choices and all-state honorable mention as seniors.

Raymer believes 5-7 Delaney Klosterman of Rapid City also will be a contributor this season. Meagan Ross, a Sidney product who redshirted last year, is another guard candidate.

Wrestling

Coach Brett Hunter said the Eagles are one of apparently just four NCAA teams in the nation planning to wrestle this semester. The others are their two December opponents, Colorado Western and Nebraska-Kearney, along with Colorado Mesa, which is slated to visit CSC in early January.

He’s hoping that the remaining RMAC teams–Adams State, Colorado Mines and CSU-Pueblo–will roll out the mats in the spring.

Because of the COVID issue, Hunter is holding his breath that the duals will take place, but likes his team’s potential if the Eagles get to grapple.

“I certainly want it to happen because all 31 of these men on the roster have worked hard so they can compete. And, this is not a sport where you can take a year or so off and ever get back to the level that it requires,” Hunter noted.

The roster includes 16 members of last year’s team, 14 freshmen and a transfer.

The freshmen are highly regarded. Last summer after the letters of intent had been signed, Chadron State was received the No. 8 national recruiting ranking by “The Open Mat,” an online wrestling service. Hunter said after a month of workouts, he believes the class is at least as good as the Eagles have ever had.

But the team has lots of returnees who hope to fill the varsity slots.

Already working on his master’s degree, Tate Allison of Moorcroft, Wyo., gets top billing. He had a 19-8 record last season when he qualified for the national tournament at 157 pounds before it was cancelled because of the virus. He’ll compete at 165 this year.

Another proven commodity is heavyweight Mason Watt of Broomfield, Colo., who was 20-9 as a redshirt freshman and missed qualifying for nationals by one match. Because Watt is so imposing, classmate Eli Hinojosa of Imperial has lost 40 pounds so he can make the 197-pound weight class that was filled by Wade French, the Eagles’ Super Region 6 champion the past two years.

Hinojosa had an 18-5 record as a heavyweight at open tournaments last season.

Other returnees who were the CSC varsity representatives much of last year include Tate Stoddard of Glenrock, Wyo., at 125 pounds, Joe Taylor, also of Glenrock, at 133; Joe Ritzen of Chadron, 141; Caleb Haskell of Madison, Neb., 157; and Terry Winstead of Harrah, Okla., 184.

Hunter anticipates that Sebastian Robles of Port Orchard, Wash., a transfer from Northeastern Junior College at Sterling, Colo., will be a strong contender to fill the 149-pound weight class this season. He was a national junior college tournament qualifier last year at 157.

“With so many promising young wrestlers, we’ve got lots of competition on our team,” said Hunter, a two-time national champion during this own wrestling career at CSC. “I just hope we get to compete. It could all be shot down with one positive test. We pray that doesn’t happen.”

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