Coming into the 2010-2011 wrestling season, many doubts surrounded the abilities of the 12th ranked Lopers to replace six graduated All-Americans and make it to a seventh straight Top Five finish at the NCAA Championships.
The Lopers have been making a strong case as a top contender in the national spotlight with second ranked T.J. Hepburn from East Hampton, Conn., at 149 pounds and Dalton Jenson from Missouri Valley, Iowa, standing fourth at 141 pounds. Also moving up in the rankings was Ben Hohensee from Monett, Mo., jumping up to third, while Joey Wilson from Half Moon Bay, Calif., at 165 pounds rolled back to fifth in the polls coming off a loss.
Another Loper making noise as they begin their conference bouts is sophomore Ross Brunkhardt from Merino, Colo. After a promising freshman season, Brunkhardt was forced to redshirt the next two seasons. The recent offseason was focused on regaining strength and rehabbing his injuries, and Brunkhardt is finally getting to showcase his talents once again. Since being moved up to 184 pounds, Brunkhardt has a 16-1 record and continues to show improvements week to week.
“I feel good about my move to ‘84s. I’m definitely excited to get into conference and show what I can do,” he said after going 3-0 at last week’s Central Missouri Dual Jamboree.
Within the next week, the Lopers will be facing fifth ranked University of Central Oklahoma, first ranked UNO and tenth ranked Adams State College. UNK will be hosting this year’s NCAA National Championship Tournament in March.