With the loss of All-American Alex Morf to graduation and a team comprised mostly of first-years and sophomores, head coach Ken Pratt is looking forward to a season of hard work and perseverance.
The goal is always to improve daily, said Pratt. We want them to go out at every match and give it their all. As long as they are giving 100 percent, it doesnt really matter if they win or lose.
The teams first and only tournament so far this season was the St. Olaf Open, which took place on Saturday, Nov. 15 at St. Olaf. It featured schools such as Waldorf, UW-Eau Claire, Rochester, Morris, Mankato, UW-LaCrosse and Concordia.
At the match, La Thor 07 came in 4th in the 125 lb. category, Ryan Jacobson 06 came in 3rd in the 141 lb. category, Jay DeCoux 05 came in 3rd in the 174 lb. category and Kurt Miller 06 came in 4th in the 184 lb. category. Overall, both Pratt and the team members felt that they performed well at the match, and can now focus on improving in certain areas.
The purpose of the tournament is to get a gauge on how were doing, said Pratt. We talk about putting moves together and now the guys have to see it for themselves. [This tournament] reinforces what weve been telling them.
Skipp Sandberg 06, one of the elected captains, voiced similar sentiments.
Were just starting to get a full team put together, Sandberg said. The football players just came back a few days ago, and were still getting our line-up set.
Lucas Knadle 04, another one of the elected captains, had a similar opinion of the tournament, in that it shed light on certain areas in which to improve.
We need to improve because we werent aggressive enough, Knadle said.
Jacobson also thought that their specific areas of improvement became clearer after witnessing individual performances on Saturday.
We need to keep working hard in the practice room, and especially work on technique, Jacobson said.
Right now, the greatest challenge facing the team is establishing new leadership.
Pratt and many team members said that they feel that the team will be different without the presence of Morf, but that eventually the group will begin to take on a different identity.
Its hard to lose a kid like Morf, Knadle said. He was a good guy to have around because you could really learn from all of his experiences.
Knadle also brought up the fact that he is the only senior on the team this year.
Its kind of cool and kind of sad, he said. I wish some of my classmates were here to wrestle with, but Ive developed a great bond with the younger kids over the years.
Pratt pointed out that there are definitely leaders emerging in the three captains: Knadle, Sandberg and Anthony Rodgers 05.
They lead by example, by being here everyday. Sometimes those are the best type of leaders, Pratt said.
Sandberg, too, said that its different not having one leader that everyone can look up to, but he was confident that people would step up as the season progressed.
Looking ahead, the St. Olaf team has the daunting challenge of sharing a conference with Augsburg, whose team has won eight NCAA Division III wrestling national championships in the last 13 years, including three in a row from 2000-2002.
In spite of this, the St. Olaf team remains confident that they continue to do well.
I think that placing second in conference is our team goal, Knadle said. Individually, we always have three to four guys who make it to nationals.
Pratt said that he hopes to improve on last years fifth place finish at the regional tournament. The teams next tournament takes place on Saturday at UW-Eau Claire.