Area matmen headed for national tourney
Wadena-Deer Creek's Mitch Steffens is among a group of elite area wrestlers who do not want to see the season end quite yet.
The WDC state tournament qualifier will be heading to the National High School Coaches Association's Wrestling Championships March 23-28 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Only state tournament qualifiers are eligible for the national tournament. Steffens qualified for his first Class A state wrestling tournament this year and claimed WDC's lone state victory -- an 8-2 decision over Kimball Area's Tanner Mills in the first round of the 112-pound wrestlebacks. Steffens, who was ranked in the Guillotine's Class A 112-pound Top 10 this season, posted a 1-2 record at the state tournament. He was 27-4 going into the Section 6A tournament where he placed second to Border West's Mitch Andrews.
Steffens has been wrestling varsity since the eighth grade and enters his junior year with 91 victories.
"Mitch is super driven. He is definitely going to get better," WDC head coach Norm Gallant said.
Mitch is the younger brother of Kenny Steffens, who was a state runner-up in 2007. He is the first WDC wrestler to make the trip to Virginia Beach since Kyle Trout, who went on to be named a two-time All-American at Itasca Community College and an All-American at Moorhead State.
Joining Steffens will be Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale 152-pounder Jake Braaten and heavyweight Colin Turchin and New York Mills' Jordan Novak (135) and Shane Novak (103). Braaten, a four-time section champ and state entry, went 1-2 in his final trip to state. Turchin, a sophomore, who was making his second straight appearance at state, lost both of his matches. Jordan Novak capped his prep career with a fourth place finish in the state tournament a good state tournament. Freshman Shane Novak had a very challenging state tournament as he lost to Badger-Greenbush-Middle River's Isaac Novacek 6-4 in the first round and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Kurt Timmons 7-2 in wrestlebacks. Novacek won the Class A 103-pound state title and Timmons finished third.
The NHSCA National Wrestling Championships already has 47 states and two European countries represented as entries. Wrestlers compete in freshman, sophomore, junior and senior divisions. Across all four divisions, more than 700 individuals had won at least one state title throughout their career.