DII Notebook: CSM senior Paul Wilson balances studies, championship aspirations
Nearly two weeks ago, Colorado School of Mines senior Paul Wilson received D2Wrestle.com wrestler of the week for going 4-0 the previous week, winning three of his 197-pound matches by fall.
Getting those types of accolades during the season, Wilson said, are cool. It is a marker that lets him know he’s taking the right path to his ultimate destination.
Wilson, 13-2 overall and undefeated against NCAA Division II competition through Saturday, wants to enjoy the final six weeks of his career and hopes it ends with a national title at the NCAA Division II Championships, March 11-12 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“It has been a long career,” Wilson said. “Sometimes it feels like it will never end. Ideally, I would like to finish as a national champion. I want that. I am going to work as hard as I can to get there.
“At the end of the day, as long as I feel I did everything I could, I will be OK with myself.”
Wilson arrived at Colorado School of Mines in 2012-13 season and went 21-7 as a freshman. He was a two-time state finalist and a state champion at 220 pounds at Stillwater (Okla.) High School.
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But Wilson admits he won in high school on just being physically stronger than most of his opponents. He was lacking in the technical aspects of wrestling at the college level.
“He came into the program raw,” Colorado School of Mines coach Austin DeVoe said. “He was a complete athlete that didn’t have a lot of technical skills right away. After three full seasons and this season, he has really developed solid technique.”
Like all the wrestlers DeVoe brings in, Wilson was motivated. Student-athletes who wrestle at Colorado School of Mines need that trait to succeed in the classroom.
DeVoe said all but one of the wrestlers on his roster this year are engineering majors and the one who isn’t is majoring in computer science. Wilson is majoring in petroleum engineering.
Wilson can recall times when he studied all night, went to a 6 a.m. workout/lifting and then to class and the next day he had a test.
“It is very difficult, especially my first two years here,” Wilson said. “I probably put less than I should have into school and more into wrestling. I figured things out and I had to. It is difficult, but you manage. You keep going day by day.
“It is pretty brutal at times, but it is all worth it in the end. That’s why you go to these schools so you can get out and have a job.”
Team chemistry is easy to build for the wrestlers. They are all going through the same experience.
“The type of kids we have they have to be extremely focused when they are here at this university,” DeVoe said. “They make sacrifices in their social life. When they are here, they are doing their homework and wrestling. There is not a lot of free time between those two. We have group study sessions within the team.
“The neat thing is all of our kids are in it together being in challenging majors.”
On a yearly basis, DeVoe figures to have a fairly young team. Sometimes when the wrestlers hit their junior or senior year, they give up the sport to focus on their major 100 percent and the job that awaits them after graduation.
“Some of these guys start to see the type of career they can have in engineering and wrestling for some of the guys becomes less of a priority when they think of the world-changing type of career they can go into,” DeVoe said.
The fact that Wilson has stuck with wrestling and continued to improve has made him special to the program, DeVoe said. Wilson has led the team in wins since he has been at the school.
The addition of Louis Caputo to the coaching staff this year has helped Wilson realize how good he can be. The coaches want to help him reach his final destination as a college wrestler.
“Paul has been a joy,” DeVoe said. “He is just a great kid. I think he has definitely matured throughout his career. “Getting him to realize he is that good has been a process that we’ve been going through this season. Some guys don’t realize how good they are.”
Whatever happens in Wilson’s final six weeks of wrestling, he knows his experience as a student-athlete at Colorado School of Mines has been rewarding. He will start searching for a job after he graduates and if he doesn’t find one, he plans to go to graduate school.
“It is a special experience being around people a lot like you as far as how you focus on school,” Wilson said. “It is easy to make friends with them. You are on a team with them and all are going throw the same things you are going through. It breeds a family atmosphere because we are all going through the same stuff.”
On the wrestling mat, he has improved each season. Last year, he finished fifth in the Division II West Super Regional, falling just shy of making nationals.
“We have always known he had the talent,” DeVoe said. “This year he is putting it altogether. He has been in the mix, but haven’t been able to make it happen at the end of the season.
“I hope he can put it altogether at the end of this year and send him off as an All-American or a national champ because I think he does have high-end ability as an athlete to win it all.”
Adams State men’s and women’s track and field teams had some outstanding performances in two different NCAA Division I meets
Last weekend, some members of Adams State men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams competed in the Air Force Invitational and others went to the Cherry and Silver Invitational at the University of New Mexico.
Competing against Division I athletes, the Grizzlies turned in some special performances.
One of them was by sophomore Samuel Bilderbeck. He set a school record in the heptathlon with 5250 points, beating the previous mark of 5,247 set by Wayne Durham in 2009.
Bilderbeck’s performance was also good enough to earn him first place by 150 points. One of the remarkable aspects of his showing was the injuries he had to overcome in previous years to get to this point.
“Samuel had major ankle surgery basically from the summer before he started school here,” Adams State coach Rock Light said. “He spent a year rehabilitating that ankle. Then in indoor, he separated his shoulder last year, tore the labrum.
“It is just an amazing journey. It is hard to explain. I am just so proud of him. It shows what a strong man he is and how hard he worked to get to where we all knew he would be. It was gratifying to see this happen.”
On the women’s side, Sunayna Wahi took first in the 60 meter dash at the Air Force Invitational
“She ran a lifetime,” Light said. “It put her No. 3 on the list in Division II.
“Jurgen Themen, on the men’s side, ran really well in the finals of the 60 meters to win it. He is No. 6 on the list. I was proud of him. He is coming along well. I expect his time to drop more in the next few meets.”
On Feb. 5 and Feb. 6, Adams State is at home competing against West Texas A&M in the Grizzley/Buffalo Clash. On Feb. 12-14, the Grizzlies will compete at the University of Washington for the Husky Classic.
“I hope they gain the experience to not look at labels, Division I, II or III and just compete,” Light said of going to Division I meets. “It doesn’t matter where you are at. I coached Division I my whole life before at got to Adams State and I look at our program as anything but a really strong track and field program. We want to go to these meets. To let us in the Air Force meet I thought was awesome. I really appreciate the head coach at Air Force to let us in the meet.
“We have to go to go where the competition is and sometimes those are Division I meets. I’d like to take our full team. Those that we took, I am proud the way they competed.”