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Prep wrestling: Led by a quartet of seniors, Sibley-Ocheyedan wrestlers aim high

SIBLEY, Iowa -- With crunch time rapidly approaching in high school wrestling, a quartet of senior Sibley-Ocheyedan matmen are climbing their way up the all-time rankings for pins in the state of Iowa.

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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Sibley-Ocheyedan Generals seniors that have or are nearing 100 career pins are (left to right) Garrett Sayler, Trent Kruger, Matt Naig and Dylan Schuck.

SIBLEY, Iowa -- With crunch time rapidly approaching in high school wrestling, a quartet of senior Sibley-Ocheyedan matmen are climbing their way up the all-time rankings for pins in the state of Iowa.

Dylan Schuck, Trent Kruger and Garrett Sayler are all members of the exclusive century club for wrestlers with 100 career pins, while Matt Naig is closing in on it with 94. Schuck, who wrestles at 145 pounds for the Generals, has 141 career pins, good for fourth all-time and only six away from taking over second place. Max Thomsen of Union Community in Laporte, Iowa holds the all-time record with 157. Sayler has 121 career pins, while Kruger has 120.

The race to reach the milestones is on for Schuck and Naig, but time is running thin with only the section tournament on Saturday, the district tournament on Feb. 11 and the Iowa State Tournament on Feb. 16-18 remaining.

“It would be cool to get that record,” said Schuck, who has 44 falls this season. “And if I could hold onto that for a few years, that would be even better. To be able to look back and say I’m the pinning-est person in state history. That would be cool to achieve.”

For Naig, joining his teammates in the century club, while wrestling as a heavyweight, would be a special achievement.

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“I fully expect to get to 100 pins,” said Naig, who has 32 falls this season. “I’ve got four or five more weigh-ins. It’s definitely possible. I’m definitely capable of doing it. It would be awesome to get in the same club as these three guys. Not too many people do that in their career, so that would be pretty cool.”

At this point in the season, all of the hard work is already in the books and the wrestlers just have to focus on the little things as they prepare for the stretch run. If they reach their goals, they say, it will be because of the hard work they have already put in.

“Your conditioning is about what it’s gonna be at,” Naig said. “So now the coaches are just working on nitpicking things and making sure our technique is right.”

‘At this point we’ve just got to keep working hard like we do every day,” Sayler said.

All four of the Generals’ tremendous seniors are ranked in the top 10 in their weight classes in Iowa Class 1A. Schuck is No. 2 at 145 pounds, Kruger No. 4 at 170 pounds, Naig is No. 4 at heavyweight and Sayler is No. 10 at 160 pounds. And junior Hunter Dejong is ranked third in the 195-pound class.

“Coming into the season, we knew we were going to have a good team,” Naig said. “I’ve had a good season myself, and so have these other guys. I came in expecting this, so it’s nothing short of what I’ve been expecting to do. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and before you know it state will be here and things will work out.”

With five state-ranked wrestlers laying the foundation for the team, S-O has had a successful team season. It is 21-2 overall in duals this season, and just won the Siouxland Conference tournament this past weekend scoring 242.5 points. Schuck, Kruger and Sayler, as well as Dejong and Kyle Green, all finished first in their weight classes at the conference tournament, while Naig placed second.

“When we’ve got four guys that have only lost a couple matches apiece all year long -- Dylan is still undefeated and the others have only lost two matches this year -- the percentages are in your favor,” said Generals head wrestling coach Ben Strandberg. “When you’ve got four guys like that -- and we’ve got another state qualifier in our lineup as well, Hunter Dejong. When you get those five guys firing on all cylinders, we’re hard to beat.”

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The Generals know it’s going to be a tough road to maneuver to bring home a state title, but they are ready to show that they belong on the top of the mountain in Iowa high school wrestling after finishing third at dual state last season.

And they have a chip on their shoulder.

“I think we can show everybody that we can beat these good teams like Lisbon and Don Bosco,” Naig said. “We’ve always been pushed to the side and it’s always been these Eastern Iowa teams, and I think it’s just time to show that we can compete with them and beat them.”
“Absolutely we want to win a state title,” Kruger said. “That’s what we’ve been wrestling for however many years for. That’s everyone’s goal. That’s definitely a very attainable goal and that’s what we’re gunning for here in the next couple of weeks.”

No matter what happens as the 2017 Iowa high school wrestling season winds down, three of the Generals’ four senior leaders will stick together as they transition to the next level. Schuck, Naig and Kruger are all going to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. to wrestle. Sayler is headed to Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, to play football.

“My wrestling career isn’t over yet, thankfully,” Naig said.


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Tim Middagh/Daily Globe Sibley-Ocheyedan senior Dylan Schuck warms up with some pull ups. Schuck is closing in to become No. 2 on the Iowa high school list for wrestling pins.

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