Young group leads Lopes’ grapplers into future
By: Garrett Osterode/GCU Staff
New beginnings. Bright future.
After disappearing from the GCU athletic landscape completely for three years, the Grand Canyon University Club Wrestling team made a triumphant return to the campus in 2019-20. Under Lopes’ Head Coach (and former Arizona State NCAA Division 1 wrestler) Mickey Nunez, the team was primed to make a name for themselves in Year 1.
The team competed in 11 events – ranging from dual events all the way to national tournaments. The team steadily progressed throughout the year, giving the team, who was mostly comprised of freshmen, the opportunity to grow and learn what intercollegiate wrestling looked like.
“Most of our guys were champion wrestlers in high school,” said Nunez. “They quickly realized this was a whole new talent level, and we had to make adjustments on the fly.”
The team gained a lot of momentum heading into the final part of their schedule. Although no individual player placed in a tournament this year, many players won confidence-building matches.
“We are right on track for the future of this program,” said Nunez. “Winning matches as freshmen is not something I expected but am extremely pleased with. Our guys know what it takes to win at this level.”
The Lopes not only made an impact on the mat in their first season, but stood out in the classroom as well. Every single member of the club finished the year with a cumulative grade point average above 3.00.
“We had a really motivated group of guys this year,” said Nunez. “They were a tight-knit group, which allowed for them to push each other on and off the mat. Wrestling is an individual sport, but the guys have really leaned on each other for support. It’ll be fun to coach them for the next four years.”