Doug Wolter: Notes on wrestling, basketball and gymnastics
A few thoughts on a few things around the area high school sports scene
A little bit about a few things:
Trojan wrestlers are on point
The Worthington Trojans high school wrestling team has yet to host a home meet. It will be Dec. 20 before local fans can see the Trojans in Worthington as they take on Jackson County Central and Marshall in a triangular.
The Trojans went on the road to Pipestone Area last week to defeat the Arrows with a fall from 285-pounder Kasey Gerhard. Then last weekend they placed four wrestlers in the highly competitive Jackson County Central Pizza Ranch Invitational.
I spoke with Mike Preuss, an assistant coach for WHS, last weekend and he told me that four Trojans are looking especially intriguing at this early point in the season.
He mentioned Ethan Meyer (2nd at JCC, at 132 pounds), who has begun the year in an aggressive way. Meyer took 12 shots in the championship match in Jackson, and he’s improved at finishing them. Sometimes last year, Preuss said, Meyer would begin his shots but end up resting on his knees.
He also mentioned Dalton Larson, who missed the JCC tourney with the flu. But the 126-pounder is otherwise looking as impressive as he did last year, getting physical, moving forward consistently, and looking good on top.
Oscar Galvez, third in Jackson at 126, tweaked his ankle three weeks ago. He had a fall against Pipestone and was leading 6-2 in the quarterfinals at Jackson before being caught in a cradle. Galvez has otherwise been diligent in working to stay in proper position.
Preuss also mentioned Miat Htoo, who is only in his third year of wrestling and thus still lacks experience. He may be someone to watch out for.
At the beginning of the 2022-23 wrestling season, head coach Kirk Feit said his Trojans don’t have any obvious superstars, but there are several who could make heads turn in time for the big meets coming in February.
This Friday and Saturday, Worthington will compete in the Redwood Valley Riot, another individual-themed tournament that Preuss says can go a long way in developing high school wrestlers.
“I think it helps some of them. They can go out and try different things that you wouldn’t try in a dual meet, where if it doesn’t work it can hurt the team,” Preuss said.
He went on to say that the JCC tournament showed the Trojans areas where they still need work. They need more work on hand control, they need to refrain from looking down as they wrestle, and they need also to keep from being flat-footed.
The Reitmeier Way
I love listening to Worthington High School gym coach Joni Reitmeier explain her special outlook on coaching. It obviously works. She’s led the Trojans to eight consecutive state tournaments.
In discussing the 2022-23 season with her in a pre-season practice, she mentioned how her gymnasts have excelled by overcoming their natural fears.
“Fear is real,” she said. “And in gymnastics everybody is fearful. And if you’re not fearful, you’re not human.”
Reitmeier, who has always stressed “team” in a sport that some consider to be more about the individual, has always understood that by asserting the team angle, gymnasts learn that by lifting up their teammates they can minimize their own fears for the benefit of others. When you do well, the team does well.
Everybody on the WHS squad gets the message.
“I understand that they do go out there on their own, but they know that they’re never alone,” Reitmeier said.
This season, the Trojans are bringing in new varsity members, and Reitmeier responded recently by welcoming an outsider into practice sessions who she thought could deepen her gymnasts’ leadership skills. Leadership is a part of courage, she said. The goal is to work on bringing out the girls innate leadership abilities, teaching them not to be afraid to lead.
Fun times in Big South
I think some fun times are ahead in Big South Conference boys basketball.
I’ve already listened to several coaches who tell me there’s no easy out in the conference. And yes, I know we tend to hear that every year, but this year the league seems especially intriguing.
We’ve got to start with the Worthington Trojans. They were a young, talented team that took more than their share of lumps last year for various reasons. Now they’re older and still very talented. They beat the Marshall Tigers 67-40 on Friday in Marshall.
That’s no small thing. In fact, it’s big. For several years before now, the Tigers were their “daddy,” but no more. Even before the current season began, head coach Clint Meyer said WHS intended to be one of the best teams in the conference. It’ll be fun to see where the Trojans (who were scheduled to play at Windom Tuesday, Dec. 13) go from here.
And Marshall? Don’t sell them short. They’re still Marshall.
In this part of the Big South, lots of other teams are lining up to take their shots. Windom Area has two outstanding players in Henry Erickson and Abe McKibbin and also a good bench. The Eagles played some tough opponents early, but coach Mitch Boeck believes they’ll be ready to fly when it really counts.
Luverne features one of the top players in all of southwest Minnesota, Gannon Ahrendt. Pipestone Area was 22-6 last year and played in the Section 3AA finals, and they moved to 3-0 after beating Luverne 75-57 on Friday.
Jackson County Central has grown up. The Huskies’ youthful growing pains are a thing of the past now, and they’re ready to roll. They also have an outstanding freshman, Roman Voss, in the ranks.
A little farther north, Redwood Valley stood 4-0 through last weekend and has scored 76 points or more in all four games, which included a 107-86 win over Windom Area.
Don’t look away.
You might not want to miss these high school games this week:
- St. Peter at Worthington boys basketball. St. Peter is struggling early. But no matter. It’s the first home game this season for the Trojans.
- Jackson County Central at Waseca boys basketball, a good test for the Huskies. Waseca was 2-0 through the weekend, which included an 85-28 win over Waterville-Elysian-Morristown
- Redwood Valley at Luverne boys basketball. A good test for both teams.
- Minnesota River at Luverne girls hockey. Luverne, a state tournament team in 2022, is 7-1 with four shutouts and a 17-1 blowout of Austin. The Cardinals, whose only loss was last weekend 4-3 in overtime against Mankato East, also hosts a game Saturday against River Lakes.