BHV Raiders set sights on state
It says something for the depth of the Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale Raiders when Mike Barthel can lose a couple of state qualifiers and still be in the hunt.
The Raiders are ranked in Class A's Lean and Mean as the season begins despite graduating Matt and Wade Moenkedick and Barthel would like to take his entire team to St. Paul next March for the state team tournament.
The Raiders are coming off a 13-13 regular season record. They defeated Wadena-Deer Creek in the first round of the Section 6A tournament before falling to Staples-Motley.
Barthel once again has a strong hand to play. His team has three wrestlers ranked in the Top 10 in their weight classes as the season begins.
State qualifiers Jake Braaten and Colin Turchin are back. Braaten, a senior, is ranked No. 1 in the state at 160. Braaten came up with a third place medal at state last year at 152. Turchin, a sophomore, is ranked No. 4 at heavyweight after having a superb section tournament which saw him gain four straight victories and pin two of his opponents in less than a minute.
The Raiders also have a state-ranked wrestler in Amos Schmidt at 189. Schmidt was third at the section meet at 215 last season and goes into his final mat campaign ranked third at 189.
Nate Wiese, who earned his first trip to state last year at 145, will miss the season because of a football injury.
The Raiders will also be counting on seniors Justin Kern and Dakota Aeling at 171 and 140. Kern was fourth and Aeling was fifth in the section last year.
Juniors Kody Graba and Kasey Horn gained varsity experience last year for the Raiders at 130 and 119. Sophomore Dylan Koppendrayer is set to wrestle at 215. Sophomore Dan Houchin is being counted upon to make an impact at 112.
Jackie Swenson (103) leads the freshmen. Hunt Truax will give 171 a shot and Caleb Ganz will contend for mat time at 140.