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Wrestling: At break area matmen maintain focus

WORTHINGTON — Many things have already been deterimined on wrestling mats across the area, but much more is yet to come in the New Year.

Area grapplers have competed for almost a month’s time now and at least know what they need to work on as the second portion of the season and the chase for their respective state tournaments becomes nigh.

At the top of the crop are Class A’s No. 1-ranked Jackson County Central Huskies but, in all, the Daily Globe coverage area features many wrestlers who are currently ranked in Minnesota and a few more are in Iowa. Here is a look at where everyone sits at the Christmas break:

The largest portion of the area’s action has come from teams who call Minnesota’s Section 3A home, but top-ranked JCC finds itself in Section 2A this year. The Huskies are the only ranked squad in the section but are joined by a solid group at New Richland/H-E-G. JCC senior Jordan Biehn (3rd-120), junior Paden Moore (2nd-160), junior Luke Norland (3rd-170) and sophomore Keegan Moore (1st-182) are each ranked individually by The Guillotine.

Some of the strongest competition the Huskies have faced was at last weekend’s Minnesota Christmas Tournament in Rochester. Paden Moore faced the No. 1-ranked high school wrestler in the nation and lost by 9-5 decision in the tournament’s finals.

“When you wrestle at that level it helps you get better,” JCC head wrestling coach Randy Baker said this week. “We took some good matches out there.”

The Huskies are a spotless 4-0 in duals going into the New Year. Their most impressive win was a 38-30 triumph over Fargo Davies. JCC won its own individual tournament on Dec. 7 and placed second in a tournament at Emmetsburg recently. JCC earned 95.5 points for 14th place in Rochester.

Even with the success, Baker knows that his team is on the right track for even greater things. They have work to do, he said, if they want to achieve goals and properly defend last year’s Class A state title.

“We need to adjust some weight classes and make some moves that way. The work ethic is there and we really haven’t lost anybody this year. That speaks to what my coaches are doing,” Baker said. “We’re keeping them and are working hard. By that, we’re getting better.”

Adrian is Class A’s sixth-ranked team, just behind fifth-place Wabasso/Red Rock Central. The teams combine to have eight ranked wrestlers — three from Adrian and five from W/RRC. Pipestone Area, at 5-3 overall in dual meets, is also in Section 3A.

The Dragons sit at 6-1 in duals thus far with their only loss coming to Parkstown, S.D. Adrian has wrestled only two in-state schools head-to-head. The Dragons beat Pipestone Area 46-12 and Benson 54-0 last week in Pipestone. Ranked wrestlers for Adrian currently include second-ranked Skylar Hieronimus (106), third-ranked Tony Lynn (138) and fourth-rated Jesse Slater (170).

Adrian coach Gregg Nelson says “team” is what matters most to AHS.

“We like the individual accolades but we have really had everybody do their share of contributing,” Nelson said. “It’s hard to single out kids because they’ve all done what I’ve asked and they’re all working just as hard as the other one. We’re just trying to get better every day so that we can be where we want to be at the end of the year.”

Of the five out-of-state schools the Dragons have faced, four of them are ranked. Adrian beat a strong Sioux Falls Roosevelt team. From Iowa, the blue-and-gold tried their hand at Central Lyon/G-LR, which has ranked wrestlers in freshman 113-pounder Mitch Van Beek, junior 132-pounder Colby McIntire (3rd) and junior 220-pounder Travis VanderStreek. Also ranked in Iowa is Sibley-Ocheyedan freshman Matt Naig (3rd-220).

“We’re pleased with how we’re wrestling. We’re using all of this competition we’re facing to get ready for later. We’re right on track,” Nelson said. “We’re not in the best shape yet but that will come. We’ll be better in a month than we are now, but we’re on pace for what we want to do.”

For No. 5-ranked Wabasso/Red Rock Central, 120-pounder Spencer Jenniges is rated second, 132-pounder Derek Christians is ninth, 145-pounder TJ Fulton is fifth-ranked, 182-pounder Jordan Schroepfer is fifth and heavyweight Alex Schroepfer is second. The Bobcats hold a 6-1 record overall in duals and also find their home in Section 3A.

Unranked in Section 3A is Windom/Mountain Lake. The Cobras tout ranked wrestlers in 113-pounder Wyatt Stevens (2), 126-pounder Joe Fischenich (3), 132-pounder Jared Willaby (3) and 195-pounder Vince Johnson (4).

For Pipestone Area, ranked wrestlers include ninth-ranked 113-pounder Michael Suda and second-ranked 152-pounder Brady Bos.

Worthington improving in Section 3AA

The Worthington Trojans boast five strong wrestlers. Four are currently ranked in their class. WHS senior Anthony Luft is off to a 12-0 start individually and is the state’s top-ranked 126 poound wrestler in Class AA. Also ranked for the Trojans are sophomore 106-pounder Eser Eh Pwae (6th, 10-1 on the season), 160-pounder Zach Kempema (8th, 11-2) and senior 195-pounder Carson Hagen (3rd, 6-0). Also strong has been senior 170-pounder Blake Schroeder.

At the break, Worthington head wrestling coach Mark Prunty commented that the accomplishments his wrestlers have earned are an encouragement that his team will possibly continue to improve down the stretch.

“Our four ranked wrestlers, and Blake, are guys who are doing exactly what we had hoped they would do,” Prunty said. “Early on we had talked about our younger wrestlers and the need for them to step forward and not give up the big points. That is happening. We thought they all looked good at the (Redwood Valley) River Riot.

“Their confidence is growing and I think we’ll see them have a lot more success,” Prunty added. “Even though we’re 1-3 as a team, we like what we see. What happens in February is what will really matter.”

From Luverne, senior Spencer Oletjenbruns is ranked 10th in Class AA at 182 pounds. The Cardinals join Worthington, Fulda/MCC and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton as area teams paired together in Section 3AA. Fairmont/Martin County West leads the pack at 5-1 overall in duals. T-M-B, with no ranked wrestlers, is 4-3. Fulda/MCC is 1-3 overall in duals. Luverne is 1-4 overall.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson is the Daily Globe sports writer. He hails from southwest Iowa and served as sports editor at the Audubon County Advocate Journal there for 2 ½ years before moving to Worthington in October 2013. Caleb trys to enjoy life and everybody that he meets. He enjoys music, playing guitar and drums, and is an avid sports fan. 
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