Excitement surrounds Wadena-Deer Creek wrestlers who hit the mat this week under new leadership and various new precautions.
New head coach Brad Wollum and assistant coach Anthony Kern led the group of 14 wrestlers through exercise and skills training on opening day Monday, Jan. 4.
“Everybody is excited just to be doing something,” Wollum said after a few days of practice. It’s a young and small group of wrestlers with just one senior, Mikaela Malone. Malone and returning sophomore Simon Snyder both found success last season, Malone qualifying for the girls state tournament and Snyder having an appearance at the Class A State Championships.
Wollum said the team looks forward with optimism to a busy season ahead.
“Being a young team, having that long-term mindset, we're really just focusing on slow and steady progression for these young kids, we’re not going to see instant success, but we're looking for the future,” Wollum said.
Traditionally the team would have had matchups starting in early December, so they are down about a month, but Wollum believes they will continue play through mid to late March.
At this point there can be triangles and duals but no tournaments. In other changes this year, Wollum said the athletes must keep their masks on during practice and warmups. During a match, they can remove them as they grapple with their opponent. There won’t be the traditional handshake between opponents and referees won't take the arm of the winning wrestler.
Wollum looks at the young team as a plus during these uncertain times as they can take this time to grow rather than dealing with missing out on their final year.
“I look at teams who unfortunately have a lot of seniors, you know they could miss out on their senior season at any time,” Wollum said. “Our kids can use this time to grow.”
Wollum who started wrestling in Canby in the ninth grade said he’s excited for the season ahead, however long it may go.
While parts of the schedules are up in the air and depend on student health from home and visiting students as well as the ever present risk of weather cancellations, the Wolverines schedule shows a fairly heavy home presence. Opening day of games is Jan. 14. WDC plans to host Border West and Mahnomen at 5 p.m. that day.
WDC returning wrestlers include:
Mikaela Malone 12th, Nick Manselle 11th, Simon Snyder 10th, Koby Endres 10th, Brandon Wheeler 10th, Eli Benning 9th, Seth Stroeing 9th, Grant Seelhammer 9th, Mason Brauch 8th, Austin Wendt 8th, Matthew Wegscheid 8th, James Seelhammer 7th, Jaydyn Kenny 7th, Ettore Pinnella 7th
While this could change at any time, the current schedule through January looks like this: