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Tiger wrestlers shorthanded for opener




The Fort Hays State University wrestling team, ranked No. 16 in NCAA Division II, has multiple personnel changes for its season-opening University of Central Missouri Open tournament today -- and for the 2011-12 season.

Fourteen wrestlers, nine who are expected to wrestle this year and five likely redshirts, will compete this weekend, though it won't include nearly all of the top Tigers.

First, sophomore 197-pounder Tanner Kriss, a Colby native and NCAA Division I University of Indiana transfer, and senior 285-pounder Justin Glenn, will not compete today, but should return for next week's University of Nebraska-Kearney tournament. Kriss (high ankle sprain) and Glenn (knee, back) each didn't compete at the Tigers' Black and Gold Scrimmage.

"We are going to give them one more week to heal up," coach Chas Thompson said. "Both of them are healthy enough to wrestle. Just shape-wise, it's not there. Going to give them a little bit more time to get some shape so they can get through a seven-minute match."

In the scrimmage, FHSU sophomore 149-pounder Mitchell Means, a returning All-American and ranked No. 2 in NCAA Division II, hurt his rotator cuff in his match against redshirt freshman Joey Dozier.

"He probably could have went this week," Thompson said.

Sophomore 157-pounder Derek Koehn, a team captain, will not compete this weekend either, and is expected to open his season Dec. 1 in a home dual against University of Central Oklahoma.

"We are just making sure his weight is established and he is good to go," Thompson said.

Senior 165-pounder Travis Budke, a Thomas More Prep-Marian graduate, will redshirt this season.

"Travis went to Pratt for two years, didn't redshirt, transferred and then stepped in immediately for me," Thompson said. "Ideally, most people want to redshirt a year just to have a year to kind of improve on themselves and not have to worry about training for the national championship.

"I sat down with Budke, and we feel like this year's team is going to be a really good team, but I think next year is the year that we are going to make a run," Thompson added. "I think we can be one of the best teams in the country this year, but I think that next year, we can be a little bit better than this year's team."

Junior 125-pounder Collin Hase, who is expected to compete for a starting job, will not be able to wrestle in the first semester because of academic trouble at Labette Community College.

As well, Aldon Isenberg, an NCAA national qualifier, left the program for University of Iowa, a tradition-laden program. Isenberg had no problems with FHSU, but believed he could start for the Hawkeyes.

"That's always been his dream," Thompson said.

Dozier, a Garden City native, and senior 141-pounder Dustin Dooley and sophomore Rory Wilkinson, a starter last year, will be among those who will compete at Central Missouri today. Dooley had wrestled for FHSU for several years, took some time off and has returned.

"He needed a break from the sport," Thompson said of Dozier. "Had dealt with some injuries, needed to get his knee healed up. Ended up stepping away from the sport for awhile. Looked at wrestling other places, but never actually left Hays. ... One of the hardest workers in the room."

Sport Date Opponent Score
2/18 SW Baptist L 66-53
12/1 Oklahoma - Panhandle L 66-60 (OT)