Brad Cusatis’ wrestling shoes will be retired Thursday.
His Hastings College teammates plan to place his shoes on a mat in the middle of Lynn Ferrell arena, a longtime tradition for retiring wrestlers they thought would be a fitting tribute to the Bronco senior, who was killed Saturday morning in a car-train accident.
“He definitely had the respect of the team, so they are taking it pretty hard,” Hastings coach Shawn Kelley said. “This could have happened to anybody, but Brad was invincible.”
According to the Kansas State Patrol, Cusatis and his mother, Tracy Core of Lincoln, were killed when their car was hit by a train just north of Webber, Kan.
Kelley said Cusatis and his mom were pulling out of a field they had just harvested and were heading to another one in the area when they were hit by the train, according to information he’s received from the family. Cusatis’ father, Brad Cusatis Sr., died in a car accident in 2010.
Cusatis, a 157-pounder from Beatrice, Neb., took a medical redshirt last season to recover from shoulder surgery. He was looking forward to a big season with the Broncos.
He was named the team’s outstanding wrestler as a junior. At nationals, after losing in the first round, he fought back through the consolation rounds and finished one match from All-America status.
Although Cusatis loved to pull pranks that sometimes landed him in hot water, Kelley said there was no one tougher when he started competing.
“He had a tenacity about him I don’t know if I’ll ever coach again,” Kelley said. “He just had a fire in his stomach that you can’t coach.”
Kelley called Cusatis the stopper. If the Broncos would start out with a few losses, he’d be the one to pull out a win and turn the tide.
“He was the one that would yell at guys and challenge them,” Kelley said.
Cusatis, 22, was majoring in exercise science and was “blazing a trail” in his family by earning a degree. He could have graduated in December, but wanted one more season with the team.
A celebration of his life is planned for 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the arena.
Another impressive game for Morningside’s Nixon
Wide receiver turned quarterback Joel Nixon dazzled again Saturday for Morningside, completing 20 of 28 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown in a 42-0 win over Midland University. He was named the Great Plains Athletic Conference offensive player of the week.
Nixon, a senior from Wakefield, Neb., is averaging 318.5 yards of total offense per game to rank among the NAIA national leaders. He’s averaging 260.2 yards per game passing and is also the Mustangs’ leading rusher with 233 yards in 44 attempts for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.
“Joel Nixon has just been invaluable,” coach Steve Ryan said. “A lot of our success on offense has come through him.”
Another new quarterback, UNK’s Matt Berry, didn’t win his debut on Saturday but still played well. Moved from wide receiver because of injuries, Berry was 18-of-29 passing for 163 yards and one score and ran 21 times for 85 yards and another touchdown in the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s 37-13 loss to Northwest Missouri State.
>> Doane athletics went 6-0 on Saturday, with wins by men’s and women’s cross country, football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer.
>> The Doane women’s golf team will finish up a preview meet for the NAIA national meet Tuesday with teams from Texas, Oregon, Wisconsin and other surrounding states. The Tigers will host nationals in May 2013 and 2014.
>> Miranda Gonka, a sophomore from Columbus, Neb., scored two goals to lead the Morningside women’s soccer team to a 3-0 win over Midland in Saturday’s GPAC opener. She is the team’s leading scorer with seven goals and 14 points.
>> Junior cornerback Derek Blessing returned a punt for a touchdown for the second time this season in Concordia’s 52-12 win over Dordt. He has punt return touchdowns of 71 and 56 yards, and his average of 28.0 yards per punt return leads the NAIA. He was named the GPAC special teams player of the week.
>> The Concordia men’s soccer team carries a 10-game home winning streak into Wednesday’s match with No. 16 Hastings College. Concordia hasn’t lost at home since Oct. 30, 2010, when it fell 2-1 to Briar Cliff.
Midfielder Rachel Mussell has at least one goal in four of six games for the Bulldog women. She sits tied atop the GPAC with Doane’s Sara Cushing in points per game (2.5) and goals per game (1.17).
>> The No. 22 Midland volleyball team is ranked in the Top 25 poll for the first time, and the Warriors are doing it with local talent. Freshman middle blocker Ashlee Harms lives the farthest from Fremont, 150 miles away in Glenvil, Neb. Midland is unbeaten at home.
>> Bellevue senior setter Jordan Broady ranks second in the nation with 872 assists and is second in school history with 5,173 for her career. She’s recorded three triple-doubles and seven double-doubles this season.
>> Peru State senior Sarah Williams has been selected as the Heart of America cross country runner of the week for a third straight time. She was first at last weekend’s Dean White Invitational at Doane, finishing in 18:55 on the 5K course.
>> Concordia’s Sarah Kortze was the NAIA women’s cross country runner of the week last week after finishing seventh at the Woody Greeno Invitational. A field of 289 competed, including several runners from Division I.
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