Wrestling: Bluejays wrestlers finally ready for action
WORTHINGTON -- Better late than never.
The 2016-17 Minnesota West Community and Technical College wrestling season was virtually non-existent in late 2016, but plans are in place to give it a go in the new year.
Veteran head coach Bob Purcell will have two matmen competing Saturday at the Ridgewater Open in Willmar, and On Jan. 21 the big event -- the Worthington Open -- gets under way on the Bluejays’ own mats.
On the 2016 side of the current winter campaign, the Jays experienced a perfect storm of trouble that included a rash of injuries and would-be wrestlers uncertain of their commitments. Purcell presently has two competitors ready for action. He’s hoping two or three more will be able to toe the mat, but until then sophomore Lamont Cannon and freshman Michael Preuss say they’re ready.
Cannon is a returning All-American. He placed seventh in the national tournament last year at 141 pounds and will compete Saturday in the same weight class. In the first tournament of the season in Rochester, Cannon sustained extensive damage to his teeth which required more than a month of healing. He has been working out at home in Michigan.
Preuss, an Adrian High School graduate, is a multi-sport athlete who participated as a kicker on the Minnesota West football team in the fall and now hopes to transfer his wrestling success from preps to college. He has been working out with Bluejay assistant coaches Bryan Cowdin and Jeff Stuckenbroker and will start out at 174 pounds, possibly moving later to 165.
On Monday, Purcell was hard-pressed to predict how much success Cannon and Preuss will have early. Besides Cannon’s recent lack of action, Preuss has not yet wrestled a college match -- and the switchover from high school to college sometimes takes time.
“I think he can do well,” Purcell said about Preuss, who starred in football, baseball and wrestling with the Dragons. “No reason he can’t compete for All-American if he gets in shape. He’s a very good athlete.”
No matter what happens in January and February, it will amount to more than what happened in December. Late 2016 left Purcell “scratching his head,” he said, and he’s crossing his fingers that Cannon and Preuss can jump-start the program.
“I hope there’s some aspect of college wrestling in ‘em, and if not we’ll have to get up to speed fast,” he said.