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Worthington Open wrestling tournament canceled

The Worthington Open wrestling tournament at Minnesota West was canceled Thursday due to threats of a snowstorm and some schools' Covid concerns.

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WORTHINGTON -- Up until now, it’s been difficult for wrestling fans in these parts to get their fix of seven-minute mat action. The Minnesota West wrestling team, like so many other programs, has dealt with Covid cancellations and athlete withdrawals and the like, and Coach Randy Baker’s hopes of hosting dual meets for the rest of the 2021-22 year seems to have fizzled.

Saturday (Jan. 15) was supposed to be college wrestling fans’ lucky day. But on Thursday, Minnesota West Community and Technical College announced that the 2022 Worthington Open has been canceled due to weather concerns and issues some schools have with Covid sicknesses.

The Open was set to host up to 180 wrestlers. The event was to bring outstanding collegiate wrestlers from across the Midwest to town.

The University of Minnesota was preparing to sending wrestlers. So, too, was Nebraska, South Dakota State and Augustana. Several other four-year institutions were also be represented as well as two-year schools.

“This is the 30th (Open),” said Baker earlier this week. “There will be some high-level wrestlers here -- some really good wrestlers at the college. These guys don’t take breaks out there. They wrestle every second of their seven minutes. And they have to, because riding time is taken into account.”

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That’s all finished, for this year. Ironically, the 2022 event was to be the first Worthington Open in three years. Covid canceled the event last year, and the year before that it was called off because of a snowstorm.

Three Minnesota West wrestlers were to have another chance to compete in front of a home crowd. Their options for 2021-22 had already faded with the cancellation of tournaments, in part due to Covid and in part due to their own dwindling numbers. One hoped-for tournament in Chicago was recently lost. Nothing seems certain in the age of Covid-19.

“It’s been all over for everybody. And you never know,” Baker said.

That’s why the Worthington Open was especially important this year. The Bluejays expected to have three of their own matmen ready to throw on their singlets.

Ayden Rienhardt, a freshman 133-pounder from Bloomfield, N.M., has three victories this year and, according to Baker, continues to improve. Jacob Vogel, a 141-pound freshman from Dell Rapids, S.D., is a hard worker who always gives it his all.

And another freshman, Damon Ashworth, a 165-pounder from Excelsior Springs, Mo., has been winning consistently. He’s only had two matches since Dec. 8, and his only loss to a junior college opponent was to the defending national champion.

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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