WORTHINGTON -- The wrestlers this year at Minnesota West Community and Technical College get along well together, and they’re good workers, said head coach Randy Baker.
“But,” he added, “We’re a small group. You jump in a van together, and you’ve got everybody.”
Injuries, last-minute defections due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the lack of a football season -- also blamed on Covid -- meant that West wasn’t able to field a complete team this winter. Thankfully, the matmen who are competing are capable of winning.
Last Thursday in a scrimmage at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, wrestlers Elliot Jurries, Lance Wagner and Scot Edwards performed well.
Jurries, a sophomore from Sherburn, moved his personal record to 10-0 with a technical fall and a 10-7 decision at 141 pounds.
Wagner, at 197, won one match by fall and lost a second by injury default. It wasn’t a serious injury -- just an ankle roll -- but Baker wanted to play it safe. Wagner, who has also wrestled at heavyweight, has a 4-4 record.
Scot Edwards, a freshman from Adrian, won twice by fall on Thursday at heavyweight. He had a late start to the winter campaign, but is looking good with a 4-3 record thus far.
“We certainly miss having the numbers, but the guys we have are doing well, wrestling hard,” Baker said.
Jurries competed in the national tournament last season, though he didn’t place. It was an usual freshman year for him, a year where he was involved in a car accident, and a year where his wife had a baby.
At the district qualifier, Jurries defeated an opponent who placed second in the nationals.
“That’s kind of driving him a little bit, especially when the guy you beat ends up in second from the other bracket,” said Baker.
Edwards, who earned two state tournament second-place finishes at heavyweight while in high school, is still learning how to be a college wrestler.
“Some of these guys are as big. They’ve seen some of those tricks before,” Baker said.
Even so, Edwards retains his exceptional headlock, and he moves well. He’s working on his leg shots.
Today (Wednesday), the Bluejays will compete at Iowa Western Community College. On March 20 they’re joining Triton in a meet in Rochester. They’re at the NIACC Tournament at North Iowa Community College in Mason City on the 31st, and the nationals are set for Council Bluffs, Iowa, April 21-22.
Though Minnesota West’s wrestling numbers aren’t as healthy as Baker would like them to be, things could be worse. Two-year schools Itasca, Northland and Ridgewater have canceled their wrestling seasons for this year. Baker said his matmen aren’t afraid to work, and that makes his job more enjoyable.