2014-15 Area wrestling preview
HIAWATHA VALLEY LEAGUE
Ryan Radke is back for his 11th season as head coach at Byron, which went 13-15 overall and 3-8 in the HVL last season. The Bears lost to Kasson-Mantorville in the Section 1AA quarterfinals. They return 16 letter-winners from a season ago, including captains Alex Bertram, Isaac Jestus and Nick Douglas. The upper weights will once again be very solid for the Bears. They return five section place-winners, all from 145 and heavier. Bertram is back after finishing third at 145, going 27-17. Jestus was fourth at 152, running his record to 25-14. Ryan Thompson also took fourth at 160 and rolled up a 21-9 record. Tanner Long was another fourth-place section finisher for the Bears. Long had a 27-13 record. Finally, Nick Douglas placed sixth at 220 with a 27-14 record. Coach Radke's thoughts:"We're returning 16 letter-winners, so we're returning plenty of varsity level experience. We're finally getting some of these kids who were younger now at an older level and looking for them to step up. We also had several kids place very high at sections last year, so we're looking for them to close the gap to get be in the top two in the Section. ... Out of the gate, we have some injuries we need to deal with and heal up. We're returning no past state entrants. ... Overall I feel we'll be a competitive team. As a program, we strive to be competitive and be tough to beat. We need to stay healthy and we need an entire team effort. We're always in a tough section and a tough HVL conference, so we need to be on top of our game to be competitive with all the area teams."
Dudley Flodeen returns for his 18th season as head coach at Cannon Falls, which went 19-7 overall and 7-4 in the HVL last season. The Bombers lost to Kasson-Mantorville in the Section 1AA semifinals. Cannon Falls lost state champion Clay Broze to graduation, along with key contributers like Sterling Carlson, Derek Johnson, Keston Lopez, Austin Noble, Cooper Rohloff and Connor Rohr. The Bombers do return some talented wrestlers, including state runner-up Paul Fitterer, along with Ryan Epps (also a state runner-up), Nathan Melhouse and Hayden Strain. Fitterer finished the season 41-1, falling 1-0 in the state finals to Jakob Stageberg. Fitterer is ranked No. 1 at 126 to start the season. Epps finished second in the section and in the state at 120, losing both times to Skyler Petry of WEM/JWP. Epps finished the season 37-6 and is ranked No. 2 at 138 to start this season. Strain was sixth in the section at 138, rolling up an 18-12 record. Melhouse lost the true second match at 138, finishing with an 18-12 record. Coach Flodeen's thoughts:Our strength with the team is they are all determined, they work hard in practice. Our weakness is numbers. We lost nine key wrestlers and are having a tough time filling those spots on the roster. ... We actually expect big things from everyone; we need it to be successful being our team is young. We expect our older wrestlers to be leaders and to help our younger wrestlers develop. High expectations are for several wrestlers, but we are hoping for some great surprises from many. (My expectations are for this team) to give it their all every time they get on the mat, whether it is for practice or competition. We have the talent to be competitive this year. Three of our wrestlers are starting the season ranked in the Guillotine. Our team is ranked as 'Lean and Mean' but in order to live up to those expectations we need wrestlers, especially in our higher weights."
Josh Grant returns for his seventh season at Goodhue, which went 16-10 overall last season, including 6-5 in the HVL. The Wildcats lost to Dover-Eyota in the Section 1A quarterfinals. Goodhue returns a solid squad with good balance up and down the lineup. Five section place-winners are back. Joel Gadient (29-10), Bailee O'Reilly (27-12) and Logan Breuer (21-19) all return and all finished fourth in the section last season. Charles Dahling went 31-11 and finished fifth at 182 last season. Mason Huemann went 13-20 but finished sixth in the section at 132. Other returners include John Altendorf, Casey Deneen and Kaleb O'Reilly. Coach Gadient's thoughts:"We will have solid wrestlers to put on the mat at every weight. We lack some balance in the upper and lower weights, as we have a lot of tough wrestlers that are the same size. We expect to be a competitive dual team again this year."
Brad Heydt is back for his fourth season at Hayfield, which went 9-10 last season, including 4-7 in the HVL. The Vikings lost to New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in the Section 2A quarterfinals last season. They return four wrestlers who won 20 or more matches last season. Jesus Fernandez is the top returner. The senior went 21-10 last season and projects at 182 this season. Cam Stadler is back after a strong junior season. He went 25-12 and figures to be at 138 this season. Morgen Moreno returns; the freshmen went 24-14 last season (projects at 132). Jackson Heydt also is back after going 21-16. Other top returners include Dylan Arndt, Trey Chatman, Cole Rasmussen and Lane Canny. Coach Heydt said the Vikings are strong in the upper weights, but they lack overall numbers. They're hoping to be competitive individually while they struggle with numbers, and they figure to have several wrestlers in the running for state tournament spots.
Paul Mann left the program in the offseason, leaving Jamie Heidt as the solo head coach. Heidt has been with the program since 2005. The KoMets went 23-8 last season, including 11-0 in the HVL. They won the Section 1AA title and placed fourth at state. Though the KoMets lost two-time state champ Sam Stoll and Gabe Shea is no longer with the team, they still return a loaded lineup and welcome several standout youth wrestlers. Brady Berge is the top returner. Berge went 50-0 last season and was a state champion at 145 pounds. He was third in 2013 and won a state title as a seventh-grader in 2012. Berge projects at 152 this season. Keaton Schorr also returns. He was third last season in Class AA at 106 with a 36-8 record. Schorr likely will be at 113 this season. Chase O'Connor also is back after placing fifth in the state at 195 lats season. He went 35-16 and figures to be at 220 this season. Andy Bigelow (34-12) is a returning section champion and will wrestle at 170 in 2014-15. Aaron Berge and Noah Ryan both finished third in the section last season and they return. Berge went 34-10 and will be at 160, while Ryan was 26-17 and will be at 182. Other key returners include Dalton Andrist (120), Elijah Wilcox (132), Brady Laumb (138), Ethan Shea (138), Jimmy Paulson (145), Will Jenson (145) and Brett Paulson (145). The biggest addition is Patrick Kennedy. The seventh-grader will make an immediate varsity impact at 126. He was a Tulsa National Champion. The KoMets again look like a section favorite, with Albert Lea looking to challenge for the 1AA crown. The development of some young wrestlers and finding a heavyweight will be keys for the KoMets.
Matt Ryan returns for his 17th season with the Knights, who were 21-2 overall and 10-1 in the HVL last season. The Knights saw their season come to an end in the Section 1A finals against Chatfield, which went on to win the Class A state title. The Knights return almost their entire lineup and figure to be the favorite in 1A this season, along with the Gophers. K-W returns 10 section place-winners and four former state entrants. Ethan Cota is the top returner after finishing fifth in Class A at 106 pounds last season. Cota went 36-10 and likely will be back at 106. Ted Androli was a section champion and placed sixth at 132. He projects at 160 this season after going 30-18 a year ago. Jared Clawiter is back. He missed state last season but was sixth at 106 in 2013. He went 30-14 last season and projects at 120. Defending section champ Drew Sathrum returns after going 2-2 at state at 170. He likely will wrestle at 182 this season. Other returning section place-winners include Bailey Paquin (170-182 projected weight, fifth in section), Austin Jackson (220, 6th, out with injury to start season), Luke Rechtzigel (195, 4th), Mason Stevenson (152, 3rd), Dylan Craig (145, 4th) and Bradley Kish (126, 5th). The Knights are set up to make a run at both the 1A and state titles, but much of that depends on staying healthy and improving during the season. Coach Ryan's thoughts:"We feel like we will be a competitive team and as the season goes on and we gain some experience, we hope to be a better team in February than we may be in December. This group of kids has had success for many years that goes back to their elementary team days. We're excited about the schedule we're wrestling this year, including The Clash, and will work hard to improve every day. We've been to the Section finals for seven years in a row, but the result has not been what we would like the last five. We need to keep knocking on that door and this team is excited about the season ahead."
Lonnie West is back for his 10th season as head coach at Lake City, which went 8-14 overall and 4-7 in the HVL. The Tigers lost to Pine Island in the opening round of the Section 1A tournament. The Tigers return three very solid wrestlers in captains Michael Noll, Andrew Schmidt and Shane Siewert. Schmidt lost in the true-second match at 132 in last season's section meet. Siewert had a stellar season, finishing second in the section and going on to finish fourth at state at 152. Noll finished fourth at the section meet at 195. Schmidt placed third and lost in the true second place match at 132. Other returners for the Tigers include Cole Atkinson, Derek Bremer, Peter Tazin, Michael Valkos, Ryan Hanson (captain), Jeremy Keller, Carl Kozlowski, Brendan Allen and Matt Wooding. Lake City is a program on the rise; numbers are up throughout the program. The Tigers have 40 kids in the room and they've got great senior leadership. They're another team that can be in that second tier in 1A along with Dover-Eyota. Coach West's thoughts:"This should be a fun season with lots of exciting matches. We have a pretty experienced group of kids with many of them having been on varsity for multiple seasons. We have a great group of seniors to lead the team and they are focused and getting ready to prove their metal. ... We have great numbers, over 40 kids in the room, and with the leadership that the seniors offer and the experience that many other kids bring, our depth should be an asset this season. ... We will have some weights covered with some younger, less experienced kids, but I think this is pretty normal in most schools these days. ... We looking to compete with whomever we wrestle. We believe we can compete with anyone we wrestle against and are looking to hit the end of the season on a high note and peak at the right time."
Dwight Gingerich is back for his fourth season at Pine Island, which went 4-11 overall last season. The Panthers lost to Kenyon-Wanamingo in the Section 1A quarterfinals. Noah Bauer is the team's top returner. He was a state entrant last season at 106 pounds. He finished with a 29-9 record. Pine Island is rebuilding as the Panthers return just three total section place-winners. After Bauer, Isaac Haman is coming off a strong campaign. Haman went 27-12 at 113, placing sixth in the section. Conner Swarthout also placed sixth in the section, going 13-20 at 126. Other returning letter-winners include Colton Pike, Trevor Turner, Alex Aarsvold and Brogan Kunz. Jack Williams and Evan Goplen join the varsity squad and could make an impact early. Coach Gingerich's thoughts:"We will not be a front-runner (in the conference or section), but we hope to put a big dent in all teams. We lack athletes in our upper weights, but we are a young team with a lot of enthusiasm. We have a lot of potential individually."
Heath Bakken is in his first season as head coach at Stewartville, which went 12-11 overall and 8-3 in the HVL last season. The Tigers were upset by Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the Section 1AA quarterfinals. Stewartville looks to be much improved, returning a great deal of experience and nine section place-winners. Brady Keefe is the top returner. He placed second in the section and was a state qualifier last season. Keefe projects at 152 this season. Alex Higgins and Shane Curtis both return. They both placed third in the section last season. Higgins figures to go at 145 this season, while Curtis will be at 195. Jamie Gehling finished fourth in the section, while Troy Bailey and Kyle Lypkie both took fifth. Joe Thompson, Tanner Prochaska and Travis Cappelle all placed sixth in the section a season ago. Other returning letter-winners include Ryan Clark, Hunter Johnson, Aaron Clark, Mike Kohloff and Adam Gehling. The Tigers also have a handful of newcomers who could crack the varsity lineup. Stewartville figures to be in the second tier among Section 1AA teams, falling in with the solid group behind K-M and Albert Lea. P-E-M, Caledonia and Cannon Falls figure to be in that mix, too. Coach Bakken's thoughts:"Our biggest strength is that we return the core of our team from last year. Our guys had a very strong offseason with seven of the 15 letter-winners trying to make the junior and cadet national freestyle and greco teams. Also our program has gained confidence from a strong football season. ... There will be some new guys that will need to be broken into the lineup at the bottom end, and we will need to continue to get a little bit better every day of the season. That means every practice and competition our guys need to keep taking steps foreword. ... We look to be in the hunt for a section title; we will need to continue to improve daily and get excited to compete against the better programs. K-M and Albert Lea are on top and until someone knocks them off, they are the teams to go through and we are excited about the chance to compete with those teams as well as others in our section."
Shane Van Beek is back for his 10th season as head coach at Triton, which went 7-16 overall and 1-9 in the HVL last season. The Cobras lost to St. Charles in the opening round of the Section 1A tournament. Triton is in a rebuilding mode, with a lineup that includes just two section place-winners. Max Henderson went 16-18 last season at 170, and he placed fifth at that weight in the section tournament. Randy Henderson also returns after finishing fourth at 220. He carried a 20-12 record. Adam Vacura did not place in the section at heavyweight, but he finished with a 16-12 record. Other top returners include Ethan Otterbein (14-22), Colton Chicos (10-13) and Dan Jensen (9-13). Cody Saxton, Casey Lang, Dalton Otterbein, Trey Theobald and Nate Meyers also wrestled varsity matches last season. Coach Van Beek's thoughts:"The strength of our team will be in the upper weights. We have a lot of experience returning in the top third of our lineup, led by a strong junior class. In addition to experience, I believe a strength of this team will be its willingness to work hard and improve. ... We will be younger in the lower weights and may have a few forfeits at the beginning of the season. We have some bodies in the room, but it will be a matter of getting up to speed. ... We are focusing on improving on a daily basis. We will be a much better dual team at the end of the year than we will be at the start. Individually, we have some guys who are looking at taking the next step and becoming dominant varsity wrestlers. We hope to fulfill these individual goals through hard work."
Link Steffen is back for his eighth season as head coach at Zumbrota-Mazeppa, which went 23-9 overall and 8-2 in the HVL last season. The Cougars lost to Chatfield, which went on to win a state title, by a single point in the Section 1A semifinals. Z-M figures to be competitive again, with 15 returning letter-winners on the roster. Joey Majerus is the team's top returner once again. Now a senior, Majerus placed third in the state last season at 113. He had a 41-4 record and projects at 132 this season. Seth Tupper also returns. He went 26-15 last season, losing in the true second match at the Section 1A meet at 195 pounds. He'll likely wrestle 220 this season. Other returning section place-winners include Hayden Stensland (4th at 106, 27-15), Freedom Hunt (6th at 138, 29-13), Devin Manzy (6th at 152, 18-19), Noah Prodzinski (4th at 170, 17-17) and Dillon Downes (32-8, 4th at 160). Coach Steffen's thoughts:"Our leadership has been very good. We have several wrestlers with raw toughness. They will not finesse their opponents, but they will stand toe-to-toe with anyone and give it their best effort. We have a lot of parental and community support with our current wrestling group. We are also close to 40 wrestlers in grades 7-12. Numbers are solid. ... We have a mixed bag of wrestlers. We have state place winners, state entrants, all-conference wrestlers, all the way down to first-year wrestlers. Some will shine, while others struggle, that's pretty typical of every year. Overall, I think we will be competitive and learn many lessons from each other as the season progresses.".
THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE
Dan Goergen is back as the head coach at Caledonia, which went 12-6 overall and 6-2 in the Three Rivers Conference. The Warriors lost to Cannon Falls in the Section 1AA quarterfinals last season. Caledonia/Houston returns a strong lineup, including a pair of state place-winners. Alex Goergen went 21-4 last season and placed third in Class AA at 182 pounds. Blake Mauss also returns after a stellar season. He went 35-7 and placed fifth at heavyweight. The Warriors return five other section place-winners. Justin Stemper is back after going 26-16 and placing fourth in the section. Jacob Winjum went 30-10 and finished fourth; Hunter Hauser-Caldwell also was fourth and went 30-7. Mitchell Schmitz (22-15) and Eli Craig (27-11) both placed fifth at last season's section meet. The Warriors have the look of a team that could contend for a spot in the Section 1AA Final Four in February.
Joel Viss is back for his 31st season as head coach at Chatfield, which went 27-1 overall and 8-0 in the Three Rivers Conference. The Gophers won their first-ever Class A state title last season, topping Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 38-22 in the finals. Consider this — the Gophers won by just a point in the Section 1A semifinals against Z-M last season, once again showing Section One's competitiveness. The Gophers lost an incredible senior class, but they also return a loaded lineup and once again will factor in the Section 1A title, and whichever team comes out of the section can contend for the state title, despite what the Guillotine rankings may say (Chatfield opened at No. 3, K-W at No. 7). The Gophers have nine returning seniors, including a state champion in Hank Friederichs and a state runner-up in Jared Goldsmith. Goldsmith finished 34-1, losing to Austin Anderly 7-5 in the state finals. Friedrichs went 38-2 and rolled to the state title at 138. The Gophers return one other state entrants in Ryan Meeker (132), who was 33-9. Two other Gophers wrestlers lost in true second-place matches, and both return. Jake Mandt lost the true-second match at 126. He finished 32-9. Jacob Bleess went 32-10 and lost the true-second match at 220. Other returning section place-winners include Austin Dahl (14-11, 6th at 182) and Dalton Lundy (14-15, 6th at 195). Mahleek Hussein also returns. He was huge during the state team tournament run. Coach Viss' thoughts:"We have some very experienced team leaders. We lost some excellent wrestlers with hundreds of wins to graduation as well as a couple underclassmen, so we will have some new faces, but that is going to lead to some excitement for them, which is good. We're going to keep working hard and try to improve every day. The conference is very competitive once again. We are going to try and compete for a conference title as well as all the other teams. The teams in our conference are well coached and continue to improve year after year. That's part of the excitement that begins the season. We'll see what other teams are doing to improve their program and matches."
Curt Olson returns as head coach at Dover-Eyota, which went 15-8 overall and 6-2 in the Three Rivers Conference last season. The Eagles lost to Kenyon-Wanamingo in the Section 1A semifinals last season. After a big step forward, the Eagles figure to be competitive again this season. They return a great deal of talent, including six section place-winners from a year ago. They also will get Michael Otomo back, who missed time late last season due to injury. He was 23-14 before suffering the injury. Tanner Welsh is the top returner. He went 31-11 and placed fifth at state at heavyweight. Welsh opens the season ranked No. 2 at heavyweight. Nick Richards returns after going 28-7 and placing third in the section. Ryan Keach (30-9) was fourth in the section, while Michael Nelson (25-15) was fifth. Noah Teed (15-19, 5th) and Marcus Otomo (9-14, 6th) also were section place-winners a season ago. Other returning letter-winners include Keaton Schaefer (18-20), Reid Seelhammer (10-23), Alec Olson (10-11), Colin Jorde (6-26), Corbin Powrie (6-9), Colton Welsh (3-13) and Jayden Koehler (1-2). D-E is solid in fits into the second tier of 1A teams after the top two, K-W and Chatfield.
James Love returns for his third season at Fillmore Central/Lanesboro/Mabel-Canton, which went 9-11 overall and 3-5 in the Three Rivers Conference. The Wolves were bounced in the first round of the Section 1A tournament by Wabasha-Kellogg. The team lost a great deal of talent from last season. They may struggle early as new wrestlers adjust to a new level of competition. The top returner is Walker Ward, who went 15-12 last season. He projects anywhere from 195 to 220. Other returners include Jacob Thomas (heavyweight) and Korby Koch (132-138). Both were letter-winners last season. Ross McKenna (170), Sam Bahl (138-145) and Michael Harrison (106) also return. Treyton Chigalo missed all of last season due to injury, but he should help in the lighter weights. Weston Whalen also will help. Coach Love's thoughts:"It's a rebuilding year for us after graduating 10 seniors. The kids are excited and working hard in the wrestling room, and they're ready to step up and compete this season. It will be tough to compete as a team, since we only have seven or eight varsity wrestlers. But we look to have several individuals who will be very competitive this season."
Jim Richardson is back in the lead chair this season, and the Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland co-op now includes a new team, Southland. The Rebels bring a few new bodies to the room. GMLOK lost to Medford in the opening round of the Section 2A tournament last season, finishing with a 1-10 dual-meet record. GMLOKS will be extremely thin to start the season, with many of their wrestlers helping Grand Meadow to the Nine-Man football state title. When the full lineup is in the room, GMLOKS will be much improved this season. They have several returning section place-winners. The top returner is Wyatt Richardson, who placed third in the state last season after going 29-5. He was a section champion and he opened this season ranked No. 2 at 195 pounds. Other top returners include Brenn Olson, a sophomore who lost in the true-second match at 106 during last season's Section 2A meet. He projects at 113 or 120 this season. Jace Bunne is back after finishing third in the section at 138. He went 26-12. Parker Hale also was third in the section and returns after going 25-6. He projects at 152. Blake Olson is another top returner and a captain along with Bunne and Richardson. Coach Richardson's thoughts:"With Southland joining the co-op, it has given us much-needed numbers to fill a lineup with. With that said, I'm looking forward to duals this season as we should be competitive. I see several underclassmen stepping up to the plate and making a name for themselves. ... We have some very nice, young talent coming up the ranks and the future looks bright with strong numbers in the youth programs.
Southland joining the co-op brought some very nice talent to the room and good numbers."
Rick Yanke returns for his third season at La Crescent, which went 0-15 overall and 0-9 in the HVL last season. They were eliminated by Caledonia/Houston in the opening round of the Section 1AA tournament. The Lancers are now in the Three Rivers Conference. The Lancers return five letter-winners this season, including Thor Sandven (138), Logan Sass (106), Josh Weigel (113), Pedro Lopez (126) and Cole Flannery (160). Sandven placed fourth in last season's section meet. Flannery is the lone returning senior. Coach Yanke's thoughts:"The Lancers will be low on varsity wrestlers again this year, though we are seeing a net gain in the number of wrestlers in our program. Our lower weights should be competitive with some individuals looking to place at sections or beyond. We look forward to seeing how we stack up in the Three Rivers Conference."
Tim Tekautz is back for his seventh season as head coach at Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson. Tekautz is joined by co-head coach Dave Riebel. LARP went 11-13 last season, falling to Byron in the opening round of the Section 1AA tournament. LARP lost wrestlers like Jordan Theede, Nick Hoff, Jackson Riebel and Cale Stensgard, but it returns a solid crew. McCoy Tekautz is the team's top returner. He went 30-6 last season and was a state entrant at 126. Tekautz will start heavier, but he should end up at 145 this season. Other top returners include Justin Mueller, Josh Doerr, Zacier Riser, Sam Riebel, Cody Rain, Andrew Knapczyk, Justin Grindland, Cody Nahrgang and Dom DePestel. Mueller was 26-9 and finished fifth in the section at 106. Doerr went 26-9 and was third at 113, while Riebel went 20-14 and took sixth at 132. Knapczyk carried a 23-11 mark, while finishing sixth at 182. Nahrgang was a fourth-place finisher at 195 and had an 18-16 record. He may cut down at 170 this season.
Mike Matiash is back for his ninth season as head coach at Plainview-Elgin-Millville, which went 16-8 overall and 5-3 in the Three Rivers Conference last season. The Bulldogs lost to Albert Lea in the Section 1AA semifinals. They were a very young team last season, and they return the bulk of that team's standouts. The Bulldogs return a whopping 12 starters from last season's team. They figure to be in the second tier of 1AA teams after Albert Lea and K-M. Ryan Kottschade is the top returner. He's back after a dream run to the state finals a season ago, finishing as the runner up. He went 32-13 and projects at 152 this season. Chase DeFrang also returns, and he was a state entrant a season ago. He went 33-11 and projects at 126. Brenton Ring is back after going 27-9. He is a two-time section place-winner. Issaac Breuer is another two-time section place-winner. He was 26-15 last season and projects at 220. Other returning starters include Reed DeFrang (14-2, projects at 106), Joe Miller (17-14, 126), Jimmy Elit (14-25, 132), Keegan Brighton (7-11, 145), Brady Norton (15-5, 160), Logan Graves (8-6, 182), Bradley Schultz (20-14, 195) and Logan Lammers (12-16, 285). Other returners include Caleb Getschmann, Frankie Wingert, Jacob Clark, Grant Rubin and Dustin Dittrich. Coach Matiash's thoughts:"I really like what we have returning this year. Any time you have a team with lots of seniors, lots of returning starters, and a few returning state entrants, you should have a very good team. I also like the depth and balance of this team. Our quality wrestlers are spread out from the top to the bottom of the lineup, and our depth should allow us to move bodies and get the match ups we want. ... Like all teams we need to stay healthy and wrestle our best at the end of the season."
Mike Mathison returns for his third season as head coach at St. Charles, which went 8-8 overall and 3-5 in the Three Rivers Conference last season. The Saints lost to Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the Section 1A quarterfinals. Jacy Ball is the top returning wrestler for the Saints. He was a state entrant last season at 120, rolling up a 23-9 and winning a section title. St. Charles returns three other section place-winners, and all are in the lower weights. Mark Buringa went 21-17 and placed sixth at 106 last season. Alan Spaeth finished fifth at 113 and rolled up a 23-11 record. Finally, Lane Heim recorded a fifth-place finish at 132 and finished with an 18-19 record. Other returning letter-winners include Jerod Wohlferd, Darian Doan, Marshal Majerus and Ricardo Chavez. Coach Mathison's thoughts:"We have eight returning starters, seven of them having three years or more of varsity experience. We have limited experience in our upper weights. We have a hard time filling those upper weights. We have more kids overall this year and seem more focused than I've ever seen us before. We usually finish in the middle of the pack, and we're hoping to improve on that this season."
Ron Sanders has been head coach since 1979 at Wabasha-Kellogg, which went 7-18 last season and lost to Chatfield in the Section 1A quarterfinals last season. W-K's lone senior is its top returner, Paul Novak. He's a captain and projects at 170 this season. Novak was third in the section last season after going 25-15. Other returners include Jamie Hewitt (113), Tagen Miller (126), Cooper Holtorf (132), Ben Tentis (220), Kaleb Olson (120), Brad Schmalzreidt (138), Collin Schmoker (182) and Dalon Miller (195). W-K looks to be rebuilding and will battle early to fill out a full lineup.
Chad Gimbel is back for his second season as head coach at Blooming Prairie, which went 0-16 last season. The Blossoms lost to St. Clair/Mankato Loyola in the opening round of the Section 2A tournament. Blooming Prairie struggled to fill all of its weight classes last season. The Blossoms return three section place-winners in Jon Hansen, Zach Nirk and Trent Strunk. Hansen went 10-17 at 113 pounds, placing sixth in Section 2A. The Blossoms had two returning wrestlers in true second matches, but both came up just short. Zach Nirk lost a true second match at 220 and finished the season at 25-13. Trent Strunk fell in the heavyweight true second match. He finished at 26-15. Other top returners include Ethan Arett (7-12) and Mitchell Oswald (4-12). Payton Simon, Collin Lerum and Seth Peterson figure to crack the lineup this season. Coach Gimbel's thoughts:"Because of low numbers, it is going to be difficult for us to compete as a team. But it's a hard-working, dedicated, coachable group of competitive kids. We have a great core of younger kids."
Jer Osgood is back for his second season as head coach at Austin, which went 8-13 overall and 2-6 in the Big Nine Conference last season. The Packers lost to top-seeded Hastings in the Section 1AAA quarterfinals. Austin has eight returning wrestlers who contributed last season, including Chris Romero, Danny Albarran, Aiden Wilson, Nathan Brinkman, Brandon Edgar, Brandon Cotter, Kole Igou and Eli Kaercher. Wilson (18-17) was fifth in the section at 120, while Cotter (28-7) finished fourth at 152. Igou (28-9) took fourth at 170, while Kaercher (16-14) finished fourth at heavyweight. Coach Osgood's thoughts:"We are looking to build upon last year and keep improving. We have good numbers in the wrestling room this year, so the competition for positions will increase the practice room's intensity. We're still a young team, but we are shooting to finish in the top half of the section."
— Ben Pherson