Cotter and Hale Take Down MIAA

Eli Hale traps an opponent during a match on Jan. 21 in Hamilton Field House. Hale transferred to UCO mid-season from Oklahoma State and has yet to lose in his Broncho career. Hale is the No. 1 wrestler in the 125-pound weight class of Division II wrestling. (Dan Smith/UCO Photo Services.)

While UCO’s 10th-ranked wrestling team placed third at the Mid-America Athletics Association Championship on Feb. 11 at Newman University, two of its seniors placed first in their individual weight classes.
Caleb Cotter and Eli Hale both won MIAA championships by defeating teammates of the first place conference team Nebraska-Kearney. Cotter won the heavyweight title by defeating Jarrod Hinrich 7-2, while Hale won the 125-pound title by defeating Josh Portillo 13-5.

With 4-near fall points in the third period Cotter snapped Hinrich’s 21-match win streak. With the win over the 5th ranked opponent, not only did Cotter win his second consecutive MIAA heavyweight title, but he also avenged one of his two losses this season when Cotter lost to Hinrich 5-4 back in December.
“I lost to this kid earlier in the year and I knew what he was going to do,” Cotter said. “So I stopped his top moves and got to mine. A lot of things opened up from there.”
Last season Cotter won the Broncho’s only individual title at the NCAA Division II West Regional. Going into the national meet Cotter was ranked No. 1, but was upset in the first round. This season with a 27-2 record, and another MIAA championship, Cotter will be going into Regionals ranked No. 4 among heavyweights in Division II wrestling.
“Coming out of the conference tournament it just looks good going into regionals,” Cotter said. “[I’m] Just trying to fine tune a few things here and there, and get ready to go and wrestle.”
Cotter had to win four matches to win the title, but because of an undefeated season, his teammate Hale had a different path. Going into the MIAA tournament Hale was the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the country, so he was given a first round bye. Hale won his first match 21-3 over Fort Hays State’s Conrad Cole, advancing him to the championship match.

“The title for me is just kind of a confidence booster rolling into the post season,” Hale said. “It’s just something for me to figure out where I am at. I’m just trying to peak at the right time for the end of the season.”
Hale is undefeated on the season with 16 straight wins, 10 in a Broncho uniform ever since transferring from Oklahoma State University mid-season. Through his senior season, Hale has not given up more than seven points to anyone he has faced. The championship match was no different for Hale as he only gave up five points.
“Just dominate, that’s what I wanted to go in there and do,” Hale said. “And at this point in the season for me it’s about show casing the work I’ve put in all year long. And I think that’s just a test to the training I’ve put in so that’s the focus I have is to dominate.”
Hale said he believes his focus and training has got him to where he is today. With his MIAA title win, Hale is now the No. 1 ranked wrestler in Division II in the 125-pound weight class. Hale said if he trusts his training and keeps his focus he will always be ready for any match.
“[Our training is] we show up and fight people every day who are trained to do the same thing,” Hale said. So that’s what’s so different about wrestling training, it’s every day. There’s not a break, we don’t show up one day and play tag for practice. If you’re not ready somebody is going to beat you up. So, there’s nothing special about the training it’s just being able to do it every day for 6 months.”

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