Chadron State College’s Chance Helmick won his first match, but lost the next two at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in Birmingham last Friday, finishing his season with a 33-8 record.
The junior from Beatrice defeated returning All-American Clayton Jennissen of St. Cloud State of Minnesota 3-2 in the first round. Helmick scored the only takedown of the match and added an escape. Jennissen's only points were earned on escapes.
In the quarterfinals, Helmick was taken down early by Dalton George of Ohio Valley, but managed to escape.
George was in the down position to open the second period, managed a reversal and also picked up two back points to go ahead 6-1. The Ohio wrestler also posted another takedown late in the period to take an 8-1 margin.
Helmick staged an admirable comeback in the third period, when he scored the only points. After a reversal, he took George down on the perimeter and used a cradle to earn a pair of nearfall points to make it 8-6. As the clock was running down, Helmick was awarded a penalty point when George was called for stalling. But time ran out before Helmick could score again, allowing George to win 8-7.
During the consolations, Helmick faced Cody Carson of Central Missouri. Like the previous match, Helmick gave up another early takedown, and Carson was able to tilt him for four nearfall points. The Chadron State standout escaped, but was taken down again. He escaped again, but Carson had an 8-2 lead after one period.
Each wrestler scored a reversal in the second. Carson made it 11-4 with an escape to open the third. Later in the frame, Carson was called for stalling after continually backing away from Helmick’s aggressiveness, but the final score was 11-5.
Carson received a medical forfeit from George when the two were to meet to decide fifth place on Saturday.
Helmick finished at 30-9 last year and is one of only four Eagles to ever win 30 matches in a season more than once. Chadron State coach Brett Hunter won 35 matches twice and 32 and 31 the remaining two years while compiling his school-record 133 wins. Classmate Josh Majerus had 37 and 34 victories and Justin Hoopman 35 and 31.
Helmick's appearance at this year's NCAA Championships was the 49th consecutive season a Chadron State wrestler has participated in a national tournament.