Illinois State’s club wrestling team sent two members from its conference meet to the National tournament in Allen, Texas last weekend, where they competed against some of the best wrestlers in the nation.
“[Finding out we qualified for Nationals] was pretty exciting,” Carstens said. “Although both myself and Julio [Perez] qualified last year it was exciting to get the chance to go down to Texas and compete with some of the best in the nation.”
After their conference meet in Grand Rapids, Mich., four members of the club wrestling team qualified for the national tournament. Due to injury and other circumstances, Marcus McCall and Max Burling were not able to make the trip to Texas. However, Kyle Carstens and Julio Perez were present to represent ISU.
“As a team, we would have liked to qualify more wrestlers, however we were pretty banged up with injuries throughout the year and that affected our team significantly,” Carstens said. “Although those who did compete at conference did a great job.”
“It was a good feeling knowing you were not going down there alone and there were other guys from the team going with you,” Perez added.
The National Collegiate Wrestling Association Nationals consist of wrestling teams from all over the country in club, DI or DII divisions.
“It was a really nice arena that we competed in,” Perez said. “There were eight mats at the beginning, which is a lot, and then as the days went on there were less and less until the last day when the championship match was done on stage.”
Illinois State placed 93rd out of 125 teams. Carstens made the top team point leader with 3 wins and 11.50 points.
“I think I wrestled to the best of that I could do, I wish I went a little harder and proved all of my hard work,” Perez said.
Although Carstens and Perez did not reach their goal of becoming All Americans, they both ended the season with a 2 and 2 record in the tournament.
“We both wrestled some of the top caliber kids in the nation and competed every step of the way,” Carstens said.
The NCWA Nationals, during which Grand Canyon University took the team title and Liberty University wrestler Ryan Diehl took the individual title, mark the end of the season for Illinois State club wrestling.
“There were a lot of ups and downs this season, but overall it was worth it,” Perez said. “Mainly we owe it to Jackson Reid who stepped up to coach us in his senior year.”
“Overall the season went well, we had a good group of guys and worked hard,” Carstens added. “Unfortunately, injuries and other problems came along the way that weekend.”