DSU’s Ruelas trying to find his balanceNestor Ruelas’ senior season has all been about focus.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Nestor Ruelas’ senior season has all been about focus.
Some days, the Dickinson State wrestler said, he is more focused than others. Those are the days he wins matches.
Others, he said nervousness and excitement get the best of him. Those aren’t his best days on the mat.
“I’m still trying to find a balance,” Ruelas said.
Nonetheless, Ruelas is relishing his final season as a college wrestler. He transferred to DSU from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, Calif., in 2011 and has been fighting for a first-team gig in the middle weights ever since.
This semester, an injury to Brad Steele — a DSU senior ranked No. 4 in the NAIA at 149 pounds — has opened the door for Ruelas, who was ranked No. 10 nationally and No. 2 in the North Group at 149 in the most recent coaches’ rankings.
He has a 16-8 record heading into the No. 8-ranked Blue Hawks’ dual against Northern State (S.D.), which begins at 7 p.m. today at Scott Gymnasium.
“There’s still room for improvement,” Ruelas said.
Ruelas said he was struggling with weight class issues early in the season as he contemplated sticking at 141 pounds. Steele’s injury allowed him to settle into the far more comfortable 149 spot.
DSU head coach Thadd O’Donnell said that while Ruelas has missed a handful of opportunities on the mat, he remains one of the team’s most reliable wrestlers in practice situations as well as within the program.
“There’s been some hit and miss this season, but when it comes down to crunch time, he’s definitely focused,” O’Donnell said. “He goes hard in the practice room and he’s a real good guy as far as with his teammates. He’s always supportive, he’s always positive. You couldn’t ask for a nicer guy, somebody to talk to. He definitely helps our young guys out, talking to them.”
Ruelas’ erratic performances on the mat still haven’t deterred him from his ultimate goal.
“My goal coming in and still now is to become (NAIA) all-American,” Ruelas said. “It’s on my bucket list, get that clear out the way hopefully.”
O’Donnell said Ruelas is the type of guy he wants on the Blue Hawks’ national tournament team.
But, with qualification for the tournament dictated entirely by a wrestler’s finish at the NAIA North Group Tournament, the coach knows that now is the time for Ruelas — as well other DSU wrestlers — to begin building toward their peak moments.
“We need to have everybody ready to go and wrestling their best,” O’Donnell said. “We talked about it afterwards. He needs to compete every single time he steps on the mat. He’s capable of it. The point is to get him to that point, the next couple weeks, that every time he steps out there, he has that chance to prove what he can do.”
Bender look at medical redshirt with shoulder surgery approaching
An injury that had been nagging at DSU sophomore Jordyn Bender since her freshman year at New England High School has finally forced her to apply for a medical redshirt season.
Bender, a point guard who averaged 6.9 points per game last season as the women’s basketball team’s first player off the bench, has not played a minute this season as she has tried to recuperate from surgery that repaired the torn labrum in her left shoulder.
Unfortunately for Bender, she reinjured the labrum and possibly tore a left bicep tendon, before the 2012-13 season began. She recently learned she will need another surgery and has applied for a medical redshirt season.
“It’s been frustrating, but also it’s helped me out a lot,” Bender said. “Seeing it from the perspective that I’ve got to see it from this year, it’s helped me out a lot because I’ve learned so much more from the game by watching it than just playing it.”
Bender said the timetable for her return ranges from six to 12 months. Her previous surgery kept her off the court for seven months.
Bender said she feels, in hindsight, that she rushed her return to the court and doesn’t want that be a factor again.
“I’ll make sure this time,” Bender said. “We thought it was cleared to go, but I’ll have to be smarter with it this time.”
DSU head coach Caleb Harrison, who is in his first season and has never coached Bender in a game, said he has enjoyed having her stay involved with the team despite the injury because she has provided another coach-like voice.
“We certainly miss her,” Harrison said. “She’s an extremely smart player. Even though she’s not playing, she is giving a lot to the team, just with the things that she sees. She’s basically like another coach on the staff.”
Frontier newbie College of Idaho tabs former FCS coach to start program
The College of Idaho will revive its football program in the fall of 2014 and it has turned to an experienced coach to lead its resurgence.
Mike Moroski, who had been an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at California Davis for 25 years and played eight years as a quarterback in the NFL, was named the Coyotes’ head coach on Jan. 9.
The College of Idaho, located in Caldwell, is reviving its football program after shuttering the program 36 years ago. The school will join the Frontier Conference as a football-only member in 2014.
DSU will play the Coyotes in 2014, though the schedules for that season are still being arranged.