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Gallant sees growing year ahead for Wolverines

Lee Spencer is one of Norm Gallant's promising freshman going into the 2013-2014 wrestling season. The Wolverines will host their annual invitational meet Saturday

Norm Gallant will be leading his young Wadena-Deer Creek wrestling team onto the mats this season with an eye on improvement.

"It will be a year of growing and getting better," Gallant said. "We have a strong core of ninth-grade wrestlers who will fill many of our weights."

Gallant believes senior letterman Devin Barthel is in a good position to make a grab for state. Barthel, who will wrestle at 138 or 145, won 17 of his 27 matches last year and placed third in the section meet for the second straight year.

"I expect he will be in the hunt for a state berth this season," Gallant said.

The Wolverines also have senior lettermen Tristan Baker (5-23), who is set to wrestle at heavyweight, and Caleb Monson, who will wrestle at 195 or 220. Monson won 13 of his 37 matches.

"Monson was our most improved wrestler a year ago and I expect big things from him at 195 or 220," Gallant said.

Gallant feels junior Tristan Godel also has a shot at state if he continues to improve. Godel went 17-11 last year. He is set to wrestle at 120 or 126 this season.

The team's other junior is letterman Isaac Malone who wrestled at 170 last year and posted a 4-19 mark.

"I look for a breakout year from him," Gallant said.

Brandon Monson (5-16) is a sophomore letterman who placed sixth in the section meet last year at 220.

Freshmen on the team include lettermen Lee Spencer, Lance Pierce, Carter Wright, Tyler Wheeler, Blaine Snyder and Dylan Johnson. Spencer was 7-7 last year and is set to wrestle 126 or 132. Pierce (7-7) is set to go at 145 or 152 last year. Wright (9-10) could fill the 113, 120 or 126 weight classes. Wheeler (1-1) can wrestle at 138 or 145. Snyder (3-6) is set to go at 135 or 152.

Freshman Dylan Johnson, who can wrestle 195 or 220, is new to the WDC program.

Eighth graders in the program include Riley Siefert, Steven Erkenbrack and Joseph Baker. Siefert is set to go at 113 or 120, Erkenbrack will wrestle 145 or 152. Baker is set at 152 of 160.

Seventh-graders vying spots in the program this year are William Snyder, Nick Johnson and Austin Plautz. Snyder and Johnson can both wrestle 126 or 132. Plautz will see action at 106 or 113.

Gallant regards Detroit Lakes and Pequot Lakes-Pine River-Backus as the Mid-State Conference's top teams. Two-time defending champion Barnesville is Gallant's pick for Section 6A honors. Other strong clubs in the section are Border West, New York Mills, Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale and Pelican Rapids.

The Wolverines will open their season Saturday hosting the nine-team Dennis Kaatz Invitational.