Krell eats, sleeps, drinks his favorite sport
Colton Krell doesn’t ponder a thing when asked to name his No. 1 sports activity. It’s wrestling, by a bunch. Krell’s friends don’t hesitate in assessing his tastes, either.
Take the example of fellow Westfield (Blooming Prairie and Hayfield wrestling conglomerate) junior and best friend Dylan Nirk.
Nirk — a wrestler and football player like Krell — was asked how Krell likes to spend his time.
‘Wrestling," Nirk said.
Anything else? "Wrestling," Nirk said again.
Logic suggests that football would also be way up there on Krell’s sports list. After all, Krell was an honorable-mention all-district two-way starting lineman this fall on a Blooming Prairie team that lost just once all season, that in the Class A state semifinals.
"Colton was really good," Nirk said. "He’s very strong and pretty quick."
No matter. It turns out that football drives Krell nuts. It’s not the sport’s fault as much as where it lands, coming just before wrestling season. Krell always desperately wants to get on to his main course.
"Colton is all about wrestling," said Chad Gimbel, who is both Blooming Prairie’s head football coach and Westfield’s head wrestling coach. "He lives and dies with it. It’s a great thing to be that passionate about something."
Krell’s individual football picture from this year says it all. Whereas the rest of his Blooming Prairie football teammates can be spotted standing straight and some with arms folded, there is Krell, slightly bent and arms extended — in a classic wrestling pose.
"Every day, I hated football a little bit more," said Krell, only half in jest. "When you look at how well we did, there was obviously stuff to enjoy. But it takes a lot of time and I’m always looking forward to the (wrestling) season that’s coming."
HERE IT IS
Krell is done waiting. Wrestling season is here and the toughest tournament that he’ll wrestle in all season is just one day away. On Friday and Saturday at Rochester Regional Sports Center is the Minnesota Christmas Tournament, an event that brings together the best from all three of Minnesota’s wrestling classes, as well as a sprinkling of studs from other states.
Krell, who finished runner-up at state last year at 160 pounds, is now Minnesota’s No. 1-ranked Class A 170-pounder. But that is no guarantee that he’ll go running away with a Christmas Tournament championship on Saturday.
Krell landed fourth in the Christmas Tournament last year. While he’s gunning for a higher finish this time, he’s also realistic. This event is loaded.
"There are something like three (former) state champions and four state runner-ups in my weight bracket," said Krell, who’s beginning the season at 182 pounds, but plans to end it at 170. "To win it would be extremely outstanding. I don’t think I will, but I want to place high."
Krell spent the spring and summer putting himself in position to have an outstanding junior season. He — along with buddy Nirk — competed in tournaments in Iowa and Virginia over the summer as they kept trying to up their games.
For the first time, Krell also spent extensive time in the weight room. All of that has worked for him. He says this is the best and most confident he’s felt.
"I definitely feel stronger this year," Krell said. "I’m able to pick up 220-pounders (like Nirk) now, something I couldn’t do last year. But the area I think I’ve improved in most is that I’ve calmed myself down a little bit when I wrestle; I’ve slowed things down. Now I just take good shots as opposed to taking 50 of them."
Krell was one win away from being a state champion last year, losing 9-2 to Caledonia/Houston’s Zach Schneider in the state finals. That was after finishing fourth as a freshman.
This year, Krell doesn’t want to be denied. And if it comes down to sheer effort and will, he won’t be.
"Colton was disappointed about not winning it last year," Nirk said. "But one thing about him is he didn’t dwell on it. He just turned straight to next year."
Just a high school sophomore then, there was still more wrestling to be done.
Thank goodness for Krell, lots more.