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College wrestling: Bluejays Pwae, Michels gearing up for nationals

WORTHINGTON -- The way Hser Eh Pwae sees it, the regular season of college wrestling doesn’t matter. The only thing that really matters is to qualify for the nationals. That’s what it’s all about.

Mission accomplished. But it’s not over yet. Pwae and his Minnesota West teammate, Wallace Michels, are representing the Bluejays at the NJCAA Nationals in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday and Saturday, and they both know what that means.

“It’s a big opportunity. I’m very excited. I still get to compete,” said Pwae.

“It’s a bigger stage,” said Michels. When I was a high school wrestler, it was a goal to get to the state tournament. To get to the nationals (as a collegian), it’s a whole lot more. Because it’s a whole ‘nother level.”

Pwae, who did his high school wrestling at Worthington High School, struggled for most of the 2017-18 college campaign. But he wrestled well enough at the district qualifier in Rochester that he earned a wild card entry into the nationals at 125 pounds. Michels, from Norwood-Young America, placed second at 157 pounds in Rochester.

Michels, still recovering from a torn ACL he sustained as a high school senior, wasn’t at full strength early in the year. But he began to shine after the Christmas break. He went 1-1 in districts.

“I think I did really well. I won the match I needed to win to go to nationals (by a 14-6 score), and I was wrestling the way I wanted against a nationally-ranked wrestler,” he said this week.

He’s aiming high at the national tournament.

“I think I’m ready to go to the next step and be an All-American,” he said.

When he was asked what his wrestling strengths are, he had a ready answer.

“I feel my strengths are definitely on top. I have a strong top position. I feel I can get points on top. I’m not saying I’m a dominant pinner, but I know I can score points on top.”

Pwae is determined to wrestle hard and see what transpires.

“Wrestling in college, you gotta be aggressive. You gotta want it,” he said. “I really got to work on the bottom position. That’s what I really wasn’t good at. And I’m still learning. Kids in college are just as strong, just as quick.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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