The All-America honor is the first for Maus, a junior at Truman State, and second this season for a former Cobb County wrestler. Maus joins former McEachern standout and Campbellsville junior Brandon Westerman, who finished third at 141 pounds to claim NAIA All-America honors, as former local wrestlers who became All-Americans. Life University junior Trey Hicks, who is from Tifton, placed fifth at 184 pounds in NAIA to become the Running Eagles’ first All-American in the program’s inaugural season.
Maus ended his season with a 27-11 overall record. He defeated Kutztown’s Mitch Voelker by a 14-4 major decision before losing to Nebraska-Kearney’s Raufeon Stots, the eventual two-time state champion and No. 1 ranked wrestler at 149, by a 6-1 score in the second round.
Unranked entering the tournament, Maus then toppled four straight ranked wrestlers in the consolation rounds to claim his All-America nod. He beat former Kennesaw Mountain teammate and third-ranked Jonatan Rivera of Notre Dame 4-2, moved past fifth-ranked Cameryn Brady of Indianapolis 6-4, edged No. 2 Jordan Basks of Central Oklahoma 8-6 and finished up with a four minute and 22 second pin over No. 7 Deral Brown of Newberry in the consolation final.
Maus becomes the first former Kennesaw Mountain wrestler to earn a collegiate All-America honor. It was his third straight season qualifying for the national tournament.
“It feels really good to be an All-American,” Maus said. “I felt like I should have placed all three years I’ve been there, but it feels awesome. It’s the best feeling I’ve had wrestling.”
Maus, a business and management major, has been a major contributor to the Truman State program since stepping on to the campus for his 2010-11 freshman season, and he becomes the first Bulldog to place at nationals since 2008. A Georgia Class AAAAA state champion at 135 pounds in 2010, he has had close matches in the past during his last two national tournament appearances, but failed to come out on top.
Determined to turn things around, Maus took a different approach this season, and it paid off.
“Losing two close matches last year, I think, helped me place this time,” he said. “I didn’t really have a plan, but I went in with a clear mind and I stayed focused. This third time I was more relaxed and not as tight. I think that made the difference.”
Maus’ match against Rivera was especially bittersweet as the winner would automatically place at the event and earn one of the eight All-America honors. The two were members of the Mustangs for three seasons and were practice partners during Maus’ final season.
“Jonatan was in my region tournament too, but we didn’t have to wrestle,” he said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t have to come down to him or me, but I had to forget about that and wrestle for the win. After it was over, we hugged each other he said that if there was anybody he’d want to lose to, he was glad it was me. He told me to go out and finish it up and get third.
“It’s crazy to think we’re wrestling at the same weight now when he was at least 20 pounds heavier than me in high school.”
Besides Rivera, Maus also had to overcome Basks who has beaten him three times already this season before their meeting at nationals.
“I beat him when it counted,” Maus said. “It felt good.”
Kennesaw Mountain coach Roberto Rivera, who was in the stands, was proud to see Maus win, even if the win cost his son, Jonatan, a shot at All-America.
“Ryan’s brother, Alex, was the first to go to Truman State,” Rivera said. “Both of them considered hanging up wrestling though at the end of their seasons, but I told them they have what it takes to be competitive in college and I’m glad I encouraged them to keep going.
“Ryan’s come along way and he’s gotten better and better each year. He put it together at nationals and even beat Jonatan to get to third.
“I’ve gotten five guys to wrestle in college and Ryan’s the first to get All-America. He just proves to the other guys that they can get it too.
“I’m proud of all of them who are out there. Ryan was 90 pounds soaking wet when he started. But, you grow up with these guys. To see them both wrestle with that much at stake, you feel bad for the loser, but it’s a bitter sweet moment because you know somebody was going to be an All-American. I’m happy for Ryan for getting third.”