In March 2020, Anderson Salisbury was preparing to wrestle at the NCAA Division II National Championship when it was canceled because of COVID-19.
Three years later, he’s looking to win a national championship in his last season at Colorado School of Mines.
“I think that’s a big reason why I ended up coming back, because I didn’t get an opportunity to compete at that national championship,” said Salisbury, a six-year Mines wrestler who’s set to graduate with a master’s degree in robotics and automation this spring.
On Feb. 9, the Mines wrestling team recognized 11 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year seniors before its Senior Night dual against Chadron State. The Orediggers went on to defeat the Eagles 26-18 in Mines’ final home dual of the season.
“It’s a really high-emotion night for a lot of us,” fifth-year senior Teague Dilbeck said. “ … (Mines) is a great place to be an athlete. We succeed at a very high level athletically and academically. … I’m just very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here.”
Like Salisbury, Dilbeck said he was “pretty decided” about using his extra year of eligibility, adding that he knew he wanted to get a master’s degree. He plans to graduate with a master’s in engineering technology and management and has a job lined up with a civil consulting company doing airport design.
The 149-pound wrestler commented how his fifth year has been a special one, as it was his first year starting in a dual.
On Feb. 9, he won 4-3 in a close decision, saying he wanted to put it all on the line for Senior Night.
The Chadron State dual had a scary start for the Orediggers, as 125-pound wrestler Christian Lopez was injured in the night’s first match. The Eagles took a 9-0 lead in the first two matches, and the Orediggers generated some momentum off victories at 141 and 149.
Later matches gave the Orediggers a lead, and Salisbury sealed the dual victory with a win by fall at 197.
“It was a good way to end it — a tech and a pin,” Salisbury said of his Senior Night match. “I probably could’ve done it a period sooner, but it’s still pretty cool.”
All that remains for the seniors is their postseason matches. The Orediggers will compete at NCAA Super Region VI championships Feb. 25 in Chadron, Nebraska. Dilbeck and Salisbury explained how 11 schools compete, and the top three wrestlers in each weight class advance to the NCAA Division II championships March 10-11 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The two seniors felt the two weeks between their Senior Night dual and regional championship would be just enough time to recover and review technique. Dilbeck hoped to get on the podium at regionals and advance to his first national championship.
Meanwhile, Salisbury hoped to repeat his national appearances and win a title for Mines. He finished eighth place in 2021 and seventh place in 2022, receiving All-American honors both times. This time, though, he’s hoping to bring some gold back to Golden and end his Mines wrestling career on top.
Salisbury, who’s ranked fifth nationally in his weight class, said he’s lost a couple of close matches. But, he added, “I’m going to be a completely different guy when (the regional championship) comes around.”
After their final home match of the season, both Dilbeck and Salisbury described how proud of the Mines wrestling program they were and all that they and their teammates have accomplished during their careers.
Salisbury said of the Senior Night victory: “It’s a good day to be an Oredigger.”