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College wrestling: Worthington Open is here again

WORTHINGTON -- Adam Rients is looking forward to today’s (Saturday, Jan. 19) renewal of the Worthington Open wrestling tournament. Why not? He’s finally healthy again.

Rients, a freshman from Waterville, is coming off a sixth-place finish at last weekend’s Ridgewater Open. He tore his MCL early in his first tournament this season, and though he considers himself “not quite” back to 100 percent, he’s hoping for another top-six performance in Worthington.

“You just gotta keep on getting better, moving forward. Nothing to hold me back now,” he said this week.

The 157-pounder is one of Minnesota West’s best. Head coach Bryan Cowdin describes Rients as a “physical and muscular” competitor who wrestles to his physicality. Strong mentally, he knows how to turn a close match his way at the end.

“I’d say I want it more. It’s what I’m here for,” said Rients. “I’m not going to just halfway use it. If I’ve got any energy left, I’m going to use it all.”

The Worthington Open will begin today at 9 a.m. at the Center for Health and Wellness and the attached YMCA building. In spite of a snowstorm that blanketed the region on Friday, some 150 to 200 college freshman and sophomore wrestlers are expected -- enough to, as Cowdin says, “stretch the boundaries.”

Added Cowdin, “If a wrestling fan wants to watch wrestling, this is the place.”

The prestigious tournament allows young college matmen to test their skills against community college opponents all the way to Division I. Just some of the schools sending wrestlers include the University of Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota State University, St. Cloud State, Moorhead State, Minnesota State-Mankato, Augsburg, Augustana, Concordia and Southwest Minnesota State University-Marshall, along with top two-year schools Iowa Central and Iowa Lakes.

A handful of Minnesota West wrestlers will be in attendance. Besides Rients, Janesville 165-pound freshman Braydon Johnson, who has shown promise, will give it a go. Chris Romero, a 125-pound freshman from Grand Meadow, is another one to watch.

“He’s about to turn the corner,” Cowdin said of Romero, who wrestled former Pipestone Area High School state champion Michael Suda tough at Ridgewater.

Siddney Kounlabout (197, Adrian) and Isaac Rue (174, Kimball, S.D.) also look ready.

Rients, who grew up on a farm, said he never wrestled until he entered the sixth grade. He liked it, he said, because he didn’t have to rely on teammates -- only himself.

Now, as a college wrestler, he’s trying to learn as much as he can as fast as he can.

“You can’t ever slack off. If you slack off, you’re going to lose points,” he said. “All the matches are hard. You’re not going to get an easy match.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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