ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Six RCTC wrestlers are in nationals

Raasch has chance for all-America status

By Bob Brown

sports@postbulletin.com

Rochester Community and Technical College's best wrestler won't be competing in the National Junior College Tournament this weekend, but the Yellow Jackets will still be well represented.

Six RCTC wrestlers have qualified for the competition which is scheduled Friday and Saturday at the Regional Sports Center on the RCTC campus.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of the six, RCTC coach Chuck Siefert thinks freshman Kevin Raasch of Zumbrota-Mazeppa, who will wrestle at 197 pounds, has the best shot at gaining all-America status (finishing among the top eight in his weight class).

"After a slow start, Kevin has really put it together," Siefert said.

Raasch joined the wrestling team late because he was still playing football. He lost his first four matches, but since then he has compiled a 14-5 record.

Siefert also has high hopes for 285-pound heavyweight Jesse Kahn, a freshman from Plainview/Elgin-Millville.

Kahn also started the season slow, winning only four of his first 12 matches, but since then he's carved out a 17-5 record.

"It will take a good wrestler to beat Jesse," Siefert said. "He can place."

RCTC freshman Luke Proper of Chatfield, who will wrestle at 184, will also take a winning record (6-5) into the tournament, but he hasn't seen much action. He was ineligible the first semester and has been plagued by injuries since joining the team.

The three other RCTC wrestlers who qualified for the nationals are also freshman. They are Durand Kahn of Plainview/Elgin-Millville (with an 11-24 record) at 141 pounds, Charlie Arendts of Pine Island (6-17) at 149 and Brad Swanson of Pine Island (15-17) at 174.

ADVERTISEMENT

Swanson, who leads RCTC in pins, will have his work cut out. He will face Kyle Frawley of North Idaho, the nation's No. 1 ranked wrestler at 174 pounds, in his opening match on Friday.

"When you get to this level nothing's easy," Siefert said. "You not only need to be good, but you have to be lucky."

The one RCTC wrestler that Siefert thought could contend for a national title won't be competing. That's former Austin High state champion T.J. Parlin who is ineligible because he had an incomplete on a course during the first semester. Parlin, wrestling at 133, had a 16-3 record.

"I expected him to be one of the top kids in the country," Siefert said. "It's disappointing that he won't be competing, but academics come first."

BOX: Friday-Sunday

At Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Opening-game matchup: RCTC, seeded No. 2 among South Division teams, plays Northland (Thief Rivers Falls), the No. 3 seed from the North, at 3 p.m. Friday.

Records: Both teams finished the regular season 16-9.

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year's tournament results: RCTC went 0-2, losing to Vermillion in the quarterfinals 95-89 and Rainy River 90-88 in the consolation bracket. Mesabi won the tournament, but Fergus Falls won the NJCAA Region 13 tourney and took sixth at nationals.

Tournament favorites: Minneapolis CTC (21-2) is ranked No. 2 nationally, scoring 76 ppg and allowing 59.7 ppg. Central Lakes, Vermillion and Northland will be factors from the North; RCTC, Fergus Falls and Ridgewater all have a shot at placing well.

Hot streak: RCTC has won 8 of its last 10 games. The presence of Eric Almen in the starting lineup has seemed to jump-start the Yellowjackets, and the return of Corey Ryan and Aaron Motz from early-season injuries has been a boost.

Stingy defense: RCTC has held its last nine opponents to less than 70 points and is allowing an average of 68.9 ppg, which is sixth-best nationally in NJCAA Division III.

RCTC team stats: The Yellowjackets are 17th in the NJCAA in two-point shooting at 50.6 percent, and 19th in free-throw shooting at 64.6 percent.

RCTC individual stat leaders: Tyler Young (15 ppg) leads a balanced attack. Rebounding leaders are Young (7.5 a game), Corey Ryan (7.3) and Chris Converse (6.8), who is also a gifted shot-blocker. Ryan and Aaron Motz lead in assists at 4.5 a game, and Eric Almen averages 2 steals a game.

What's next: The top 3 teams in the MCCC state tournament advance to the NJCAA Region 13 tournament, which will be hosted by the state tournament winner. The winner of the regional goes to the NJCAA national meet March 17-19 in Delhi, N.Y.

What To Read Next
Fundraising is underway to move the giant ball of twine from the Highland, Wisconsin, home of creator James Frank Kotera, who died last month at age 75, 44 years after starting the big ball.