MW WRESTLING: Blue Jays get back on the matWORTHINGTON — Just a year ago, Minnesota West wrestling coach Bob Purcell was having a tough time recruiting young talent to fill up the practice room. Flash forward one year and the practice room is now full of young wrestlers ready to learn and succeed under the tutelage of Purcell and his coaching staff.
By: Jordan Willi, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Just a year ago, Minnesota West wrestling coach Bob Purcell was having a tough time recruiting young talent to fill up the practice room.
Flash forward one year and the practice room is now full of young wrestlers ready to learn and succeed under the tutelage of Purcell and his coaching staff.
“It is really nice to have a full room for once,” Purcell said. “We have a lot of kids right now to start the season which is always good. We’ve got a nice core of 12 wrestlers who are all hard workers.”
With just two sophomores on the roster, the Blue Jays will be expecting big things from their freshman class to lead them through the season. But for the team to meet with success, those young wrestlers will have to adjust quickly to the higher level of competition that college wrestling presents.
“In high school, these kids could rely just on one move to get them through a match,” Purcell said. “In college, it is more about doing a move and then being able to counter what your opponent does. The kids have to understand that they have to break themselves of the habits they had in high school.”
To break his wrestlers of old habits, Purcell and his coaching staff will first get the grapplers back into wrestling shape and then go from there.
“They have to get in shape so they are not tired and, then, we can get to work on fixing them,” Purcell said. “Then, we will figure out how best to help improve them as wrestlers.
“It comes down to technique; if they are tall and lean, there is a different strategy than if they are short and compact. We will work on what they do best and try to perfect that while adding to what they do.”
One advantage Purcell has this year is that every wrestler on his squad wants to improve and get better every day.
“They are all hard workers and that is one thing that you cannot teach someone,” Purcell said. “If they work hard at practice and in meets, hopefully they will get 1 percent better every day. They will take their lumps, but they are good kids and they all want to be All-Americans.”
Not only can Purcell see the dedication his grapplers have toward the sport, but freshman wrestler Taylor Andrews can sense it as well.
“Everyone comes in and works hard every day,” Andrews, from Blue Earth, said. “We are all good friends on this team. It is easy to get along with the other guys. Because of that, we are able to help each other out with technique and everyone brings their own different style to the team.”
Another upside Purcell sees for his team is their dedication and commitment to the team and school alike.
“They are all committed to their families, academics and wrestling,” Purcell said. “We have to make sure they do what they need academically because academics are key to keeping this team together.”
With the level of commitment Purcell is seeing from his team so far, he expects great things from his young squad.
“Every coach wants to win a title,” Purcell said. “We want to be in the Top 10 overall and that takes a team effort as well as total commitment from the kids. But we want to make sure we have realistic goals for this team as well.”
This year’s schedule for the Blue Jays is full of tough competition that will push the team to the limits of their ability.
“We are scheduled to compete against the varsity teams of four-year schools as well as schools at our level,” Purcell said. “The kids will take their lumps, but it will give the kids a lot of experience.”
Although the Blue Jays will be a very young team this year, Purcell still feels like his team and each wrestler individually has a shot at making it to the national championship or becoming All-Americans.
“The competition we face this year should help the kids learn to believe in themselves,” Purcell said. “At the end of the year, this team could be in the Top 10 or we could be national champions. Who knows?”
Blue Jays begin year
at Rochester Open
ROCHESTER — Greg Gainey led six Minnesota West wrestlers who placed in the Top 5 during the Yellowjacket Open on Saturday at Rochester College.
Gainey, who collected a 3-1 record en route to a second-place effort at 165 pounds, scored a decision and two pins before dropping the weight class title match to Dominic Sipe (Rochester) in a 5-4 decision.
Five other Blue Jays reached the semifinal round in their respective divisions. John Bush (125 pounds) ended up fourth, while Matt Magner (141), Jadon Evans (157), Ben Goodwin (174) and Taylor Andrews (197) all finished fifth.
Minnesota West’s Jared Kinley (133), Michael Tanner (149), Jerrell Ferguson (184) and Josh Valandra (285) did not place in their weight classes.
“We made some freshman mistakes in our first tournament, but were able to still put five wrestlers in the semifinals and one in the finals,” Blue Jays coach Bob Purcell said. “We lost on technical mistakes that I believe can be corrected. It was a good effort for our first weekend.”
Minnesota West travels to Itasca Community College for a meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Grand Rapids.
At Rochester College
Minnesota West Results
John Bush (2-2), fourth; p. John Castro (Rochester), 5:00; lost m.d. Denzel King (Triton), 14-4; p. Lametrios Simmons (Triton), 2:53; lost d. Jered Kemp (Rochester), 10-7.
Jared Kinley (2-2), did not place; p. Dillon Solberg (Rochester), 1:18; lost m.d. Alexander Johannes (Minnesota State-Mankato), 20-7; bye; lost p. Zach Goldberg (Rochester), 0:48.
Matt Magner (2-2), fifth; lost p. Alphonso Vruno (Minnesota State-Mankato), 6:25; bye; lost p. Stephen Delwiche (Ridgewater), 6:54; p. John Grahms (Ridgewater), 1:52.
Michael Tanner (2-2), did not place; lost p. Dennis Wilson (Ridgewater), 3:00; bye; d. Esteban Gonzalez (Triton), 6-1; lost t.f. Josh Halicke (Minnesota State-Moorhead), 16-0.
Jadon Evans (3-1), fifth; bye; d. Matt McNulty (Triton), 12-9; lost p. Jesse Punchochar (Minnesota State-Moorhead), 0:41; inj. def. Charlie Pesch (Minnesota State-Mankato).
Greg Gainey (3-1), second; d. Eugene Stepen (Ridgewater), 8-3; p. Ben Gorman (Vermillion), 0:27; p. Brad Maas (Minnesota State-Mankato), 7:35; lost d. Dominic Sipe (Rochester), 5-4.
Ben Goodwin (3-1), fifth; d. Trevor Mahlum (Ridgewater), 6-4; p. Matthew Dahl (Winona), 2:08; lost d. Ben Tinkham (Rochester), 14-12; m.d. Matthew Dahl (Winona), 17-8.
Jerrell Ferguson (0-2), did not place; by p. Logan Barrett (Rochester), 1:40; lost d. Jake Emerfoll (Minnesota State-Mankato).
Taylor Andrews (2-1), fifth; m.d. Joel Koch (Ridgewater), 10-2; lost t.f. Jacob Minske (Rochester), 15-0; d. Joel Koch (Ridgewater), 3-1.
Josh Valandra (1-2), did not place; lost p. Isaac Eichmann (Rochester), 2:11; d. Leonardo Bernal (Triton), 3-2; lost d. Marq Brumant (Triton), 6-5.
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.