Three WDC wrestlers ranked in state poll
The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines have talent spotted throughout the lineup this season, but will they have enough to match last year's 17-5, Section 6A runner-up finish?
Graduation cost the Wolverines four state qualifiers from the last two seasons. Jared and Jacob Wegscheid are gone along with Jordan Rentz and Dylan Anderson. WDC Head Coach Norm Gallant also lost proven standouts like Derrick Rude, Isaac Lustila and Zach Bernu.
Mitch Steffens is back for his senior year and is ranked sixth in Class A at 120 as the season begins. Steffens was 15-2 last season when his bid for a return trip to the state tournament was stopped by an elbow injury. Over his career, Steffens has posted a 104-24 record with 59 pins.
Steffens' classmate, Jacob Ludovissie, will be wrestling at 160 for the Wolverines. Ludovissie made an impressive jump in his wrestling prowess last year and finished the season at 12-18.
One of the junior captains on the team is defending state qualifier Tony Reurink. Coming off a standout season, the 220-pounder is rated sixth in the state. He led the team in wins (36), takedowns (65) and match points (245) last season and improved his career record to 54-39.
The fourth captain of this year's team is 106-pounder Sam Waln. As a 103-pound sophomore, Waln finished 26-16 and just missed state with a third place finish in the Section 6A Tournament. Waln enters the season with the No. 9 rating in his weight class.
The Wolverines will have a returning starter at 132 in junior Josh Lawson. As a 112-pound sophomore Lawson compiled a record of 15-22.
"Josh has a devastating cradle and has a good cross body ride that make him very tough when he in the up position," Gallant said.
Sophomore Devin Barthel saw mat duty from 112 to 130 for the Wolverines last season. He finished fifth in the section and won 11 of his 23 matches. Gallant would like to use him at 126 this year.
Another sophomore starter will be Caleb Monson who is wrestled for the club at 189 last year and could see action at 195, 220 or even heavyweight this season.
Freshman Tristan Godel is a returning letterwinner who is considered a good bet to see wrestling time at 106. Freshman Isaac Malone will compete at 160 or 170.
Other varsity candidates will be senior Mason Lohmiller (220, HWT), junior Chris Steward (126-132), junior Colby Knutson (145-153), sophomore Tristian Baker, eighth-graders Cory Hurtig (106 and Jake Waln (132-138) and seventh-graders Lee Spencer (106), Carter Wright (106), Blaine Snyder (126), Lance Pierce (126-132), Tyler Wheeler (138-145), Brandon Mountjoy (152-160) and Dylan Johnson (160-170).
Gallant sees problems ahead for the Wolverines this season in the numbers game. The team will be strong in the lower weights and have one of the state's top wrestlers at 220 but they have holes to fill in the middle weights and a lot young talent to test.
Staples-Motley is tabbed as a Mid-State Conference favorite. Border West and Barnesville will be the cream of Section 6A. Otter Tail Central and New York Mills also have strong talent and Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale will be much improved.