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Unique Worthington Open wrestling tournament is set to begin

The Worthington Open starts Saturday at Minnesota West

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WORTHINGTON -- Wrestlers will be everywhere Saturday when the 2023 Worthington Open wrestling tournament takes place at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

The big college open tourney is limited to 160 competitors, and whatever number it turns out to be, it will be easily the largest assortment of experienced matmen fans will witness in Worthington this year.

Division I, Division II and junior college wrestlers will compete together on two mats at the Minnesota West gymnasium and two more at the adjacent Worthington Area YMCA. Invitations have gone out to the University of Nebraska, the University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa, and many more, including several two-year schools in Minnesota and other regional states.

The University of Minnesota, for instance, plans to send nine entries, including a few of individuals highly recruited by wrestling schools all over the nation.

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The tournament provides the perfect opportunity for freshmen, sophomores and non-varsity starters to hone their skills. There are 16-man brackets, and every wrestler can wrestle in as many as five matches.

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Starting time is 9 a.m. The tournament is expected to continue into late afternoon.

“If you’re a college freshman and you’re not able to compete because there’s somebody better than you or older than you, here’s an opportunity for you to go out and compete,” said Minnesota West head coach Randy Baker.

The Open provides excellent exposure for up-and-coming wrestlers who hope to advance from two-year schools to four-year schools. And it’s an excellent opportunity for fans, as well, who can watch future stars compete before they become big names.

Each year, former area high school standouts take part in the Open. This year, former Jackson County Central star Payton Handevidt -- who earned three Minnesota High School titles before moving on to compete at Augustana -- is expected to arrive as he continues his college freshman campaign. Also expected to show is former Worthington High School standout Cole Hennings, now competing at Dakota Wesleyan.

MORE WRESTLING
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Earlier this week, Minnesota West planned for five Bluejay wrestlers to compete, but one -- Willmar native and 157-pounder Joe Kallevig, may sit out due to a sore shoulder he sustained in his most recent match. That leaves freshmen Matthew Harris (133, Princeton, Ill.), Deante Porter (174, Robbinsdale-Cooper HS), Nathaniel Dolezel (197, Ely, Nev.) and Brandon Montgomery (HWT, Burnsville) to represent the Bluejays.

Baker will be looking for his wrestlers to continue getting better.

“We need to continue to improve. My kids are all freshmen,” Baker said. “Like all kids who are hoping to make that starting lineup at a four-year school or get on that podium where they’re at now, they have to improve throughout the year.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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