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ISSUE 116 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/21/2003

Wrestling preps for regionals

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, February 21, 2003

The Great Lakes Regional wrestling tournament, hosted at Augustana College in Rock Island should feature a little bit of everything. There will be victory and defeat, excitement and disappointment, and certainly some suspense. Some will continue to live their dreams and move on to the National meet, while others will have to wait until next year, or, worse, leave the collegiate ranks without that distinction.

Saturday‘s regional tournament will be equally diverse for the Oles. The team features many young wrestlers. Seven of the ten weight classes are being filled by freshmen this season, who are just beginning to write their own stories in Ole lore. The team also features a dedicated senior seeking to pen his final chapters. The young Oles have taken their lumps over the season as they adjusted to the demands of college wrestling.

"There is a higher intensity level in college then there is in high school," said Coach Kenneth Pratt, now in his 14th year with the Oles. "We struggled early with the young guys, but they worked hard and really dedicated themselves."

The team lost their fair share of matches this season, but Pratt said that the losses are not the most telling indicator of the team’s success. "I measure our success in matches by how hard we compete and how well conditioned we are. Most of our matches are very competitive and we are very rarely out conditioned,” he said. “That is a testament to their hard work and dedication to improvement."

Pratt is very proud of the team that he is taking to regionals for the first time. "We are right about where I expected us to be. If anything, this year has exceeded my expectations. We have 2-4 guys who could qualify for Nationals."

Riding the wave of his unbeaten performances at the MIAC championships (3-0 at 165 pounds) and the North County Invitational, at which he was voted most outstanding wrestler, Jason Moore ’06 is looking strong heading into regionals. He looks to make a big splash this weekend and represents one of the Ole’s best chances at qualifying for nationals.

The Ole grappler with the best shot of qualifying for Nationals is Alex Morf ‘03. Having qualified for the meet the two previous seasons, his expectations are very high. Morf capped his brilliant MIAC career by winning the Carl Larson Memorial Trophy, which is given to the MIAC most outstanding wrestler. He went 3-0, including an overtime win over St. John’s Brian Vetter, at 149 pounds.

Even though Morf will be leaving after his quest is complete, he will not be soon forgotten. He has imparted wisdom on the underclassman and left a lasting impression on his coach. "I love that he leads by example,” Pratt said. “Any challenge you present to him, he will give 120 percent to accomplish it. I am going to miss coaching Alex."

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